16 Nov 2009

Warning fair trade deal with US could be derailed

11:00 pm on 16 November 2009

A free trade deal including the United States and New Zealand could yet be derailed, an American business lobby group warns.

United States President Barack Obama, who attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore at the weekend, has has given the green light to the eight-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The proposed free trade deal has been stalled since March, pending a review of US trade policy but received a boost on Saturday after Mr Obama re-committed America to negotiations.

Mr Obama said the US will re-engage in free trade deals such as the TPP, begun under the previous Bush administration to help boost American exports and create jobs.

The Obama administration has come under pressure to guarantee access for American businesses to the lucrative Asian market.

However, US Chamber of Commerce senior director for southeast Asia says the Congress is still to have its say.

Murray Hiebert says some Democrats are worried about trade deals resulting in the loss of US jobs, and they could derail the process.

Key confident

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he is confident the White House will put all its efforts into getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership past Congress.

Me Key says US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told him America is desperate to boost exports while domestic spending remains weak.

The Prime Minister says talks have begun between officials and hopes the new Trans-Pacific Trade Treaty will be in place by 2011.

He says the US administration has acknowledged that trade is an important part of its economic agenda, which is focussed on getting people back to work.

Mr Key says this is identical to New Zealand's plan for growth, which puts the country in good shape.