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Trade deal still on table

Dominion Post, Wellington

Trade deal still on table

9 April 2009

A Trans-Pacific trade deal opening the door to freer trade with the United States is in the balance after top-level meetings in Washington.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully flew out of Washington last night after a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she praised the relationship as "the best it has been in 25 years".

Talks toward a free trade deal between New Zealand, the US, Chile and Singapore were due to get under way about now, but the US elections and a change of administration have delayed them until a review of US trade policy is completed.

Mr McCully said yesterday he had stressed its importance to New Zealand in talks with Ms Clinton. He was encouraged by the "outward-looking and positive statements" made by the new administration on trade.

Afghanistan was also discussed; the US wants an increase in troops and civilians. While New Zealand has avoided committing more troops until a review of its Afghanistan policy, Mr McCully signalled an increased civilian effort would be considered.