27 Jul 2015

TPP meeting 'will reveal changes to dairy markets'

2:34 pm on 27 July 2015

New Zealand's special agricultural trade envoy is expecting a crucial meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this week will reveal how far key countries will go to open up their protected dairy markets.

US Trade Representative Mike Froman (C) speaks at a press conference for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in Sydney last year.

US Trade Representative Mike Froman (C) speaks at a press conference for the TPP in Sydney in 2014. Photo: AFP / FILE

Mike Petersen is on his way to Hawaii for ministerial talks on the Pacific-wide trade pact.

Trade Minister Tim Groser is still waiting for a further offer on opening up the dairy markets of Japan, Canada and the United States.

Mr Petersen said he was not worried New Zealand could be left with an underwhelming offer, but he said much more movement from these countries was needed.

"I have no doubt that we'll get some light shed [on how far countries will go]... the question is whether it'll be enough to actually make it an opportunity for New Zealand," he said.

"There will have to be hard political calls made here in some of the countries that have very protected dairy markets, and those calls may not be able to be made by ministers this week. But our expectation is they can be made and we could do this deal quite quickly if the will was there to do so."

Mr Petersen said the 12-nation deal was complex and it was not surprising the negotiations were taking so long.

But he said a lot of progress needed to be made in Hawaii and - with US presidential election campaigns "starting up in earnest in the next couple of months" - time was not on the negotiators' side.

"If we don't get this wrapped up this week, we only have a very narrow window where we could close off any outstanding issues, so we need to make real progress this week," he said.

"If we don't, then frankly time is now running out - and that's why we're giving it a big push over the next couple of days."

Mr Petersen said he was optimistic New Zealand would end up with a good deal.

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