21 Jan 2009

Key hoping to secure free trade deal with US

10:06 pm on 21 January 2009

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key hopes a Free Trade Agreement can be secured with the Obama administration.

Barak Obama was sworn in on Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States.

New Zealand's export trade with the US is worth more than $4 billion a year and concern has been raised that the Obama administration may focus on improving its ailing domestic economy by reining in foreign trade.

In March, the US is due to restart trade negotiations with a Pan-Pacific group comprising New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Chile, Singapore and Brunei.

Mr Key says the Government is keen to see those talks develop and it is important ground is not lost and a strong working relationship with the US must be fostered.

Mr Key says all eyes are now on the Obama administration to see what approach it takes to free trade.

He says no incoming American president has faced greater expectations and challenges than Mr Obama, and New Zealand looks forward to developing a strong working relationship with his administration.

Earlier, Labour Party leader Phil Goff said small economies such as New Zealand will hope the Obama administration resists protectionist pressure, which in the 1930s turned an American depression into a worldwide one.