19 Nov 2015

NZ offers to host TPP signing ceremony

9:12 am on 19 November 2015

New Zealand has offered to host the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership early next year, despite ongoing uncertainty that the deal will get over the line in the United States.

TPP leaders yesterday met on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Manila, a month after the trade pact was agreed.

TPP leaders including (from left) Malaysian President Najib Razak, US President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key at the APEC summit im Manila.

TPP leaders (from left) Malaysian President Najib Razak, US President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Prime Minister John Key at the APEC summit in Manila. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister John Key said he and the other leaders, who included US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had every right to be pleased with the outcome.

"A point of celebration, y'know? It's taken a lot work to get there."

New Zealand put up its hand to host the signing of the deal in the first half of next year and Mr Key said it was odds on that would happen.

"There wasn't any push back at all. And certainly there's a desire from countries to come to New Zealand. So, can't absolutely guarantee it ... but I'd say the probability of it happening is far more likely than it won't."

But the TPP could still be derailed.

In the United States, Republicans are disappointed by the deal, and some are suggesting Mr Obama may need to reopen the negotiations.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman (6th from left) and delegates from 11 countries at a media conference announcing the agreement.

Delegates from the TPP countries announcing the deal last month. Photo: AFP

Executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum (NZIBF), Stephen Jacobi said American business leaders at APEC were divided over TPP.

"We just had our ABAC meeting, the APEC Business Advisory Council, and it's quite clear that amongst American business people there's active debate about TPP.

"There are some that are very disappointed, mostly because they didn't achieve what they wanted to achieve. I told them we didn't get what we wanted to achieve either, so suck it up."

Mr Key is pushing TPP as the logical answer to speed up free trade in the region.

South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia are keen to join. But there are a number of other trade deals underway.

Executive director of the APEC secretariat Alan Bollard said the Pacific Alliance among the Latin economy members was ratified this year, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of which New Zealand is a part, was supposed to be finished next year.

And the ambitious Free Trade Area of Asia and Pacific (FTAAP) is half way through a two year feasibility study and aims to bring all APEC countries together under one trade umbrella.

Dr Bollard said TPP was unlikely to be the final word on opening up trade and investment in the region.

"It's possible TPP represents a way forward, but is it the final answer? No, there is no final answer. We've got to keep on working on this forever, because all the time you get new technologies, new issues, new barriers coming up and you've got to keep working out how we can keep integrating these economies."