TPP stepping stone to more trade agreements - Key

The Trans Pacific Partnership has the potential to become the basis of an integrated regional trading bloc linking Asia, Australasia and the Americas, Prime Minister John Key told an audience in Washington overnight.

Mr Key, who was speaking to a US Chamber of Commerce breakfast, would have been pleased they at least had time to listen, as later in the day two senior senators pulled out of scheduled talks with him as debt crisis talks in Washington deepened.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell, who were down to meet with Mr Key, were focused on negotiations over the level of US debt - so instead Mr Key had to make do with senators John Kerry and Dick Lugar.

Back at the breakfast, Mr Key said that with the immediate prospects for the Doha round looking poor, he saw more value in a TPP that aimed to modernise trade rules, across a wide agenda, in a region that had become the engine of global and economic trade growth.

“Sustaining momentum will be critical. New Zealand exporters, like our US counterparts, are keen for TPP to deliver commercially meaningful outcomes, as quickly as possible.”

The TPP was an opportunity for the US and New Zealand to expand their cooperation on trade to help exporters from both countries succeed, he said.

“As fertile as New Zealand is, we simply cannot meet the huge growth in demand for protein, which is projected to come from Asia, in particular, over the next 10 to 20 years.

“Those of us with the capacity to produce surplus food need to focus on working together to open markets in Asia.

“We can then get on and compete, and in some areas collaborate, to ensure that we can meet the demands of Asia's growing middle class.”

New Zealand was determined to maximise the opportunities provided by the whole Asia-Pacific region, Mr Key said, so it could speed up economic growth.

“The Asia-Pacific region will be where the growth action will dominate for the next decade or two, and for the US this has to present a very exciting prospect.

“It is against this backdrop that TPP should be viewed. TPP is a gateway for increased US participation in Asia and a stepping stone to wider and more far-reaching trade agreements.

“Both the US and New Zealand are democratic, so inevitably there will be aspects of potential FTAs that are not met with universal agreement.

“But that can not be a reason to move forward. The TPP promises too much to miss on this great opportunity.”

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