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Attempt to resuscitate TPP goes on

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/03/2017

The members of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership have made a small step towards trying to resuscitate the deal without the United States.

But the Green Party says it's a step backwards for New Zealand.

Trade Minister Todd McClay and his TPP counterparts have agreed to launch a consultation process into preserving the essence of the now-shelved free trade deal at a meeting in Chile.

It was put on ice in January after US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the agreement days after he took office.

The new agreement by the representatives from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which all signed the TPP in early 2016, means the members will now go back to crunch the numbers on a US-free TPP, before they meet again at APEC in May.

China, Colombia and South Korea also were on hand for the so-called "high-level dialogue".

Mr McClay on Thursday told Radio NZ it was too soon to say exactly what the outcome of the process would be or whether the deal was dead.

But Green Party trade spokesperson Barry Coates said the minister was "flogging a dead horse".

"[Mr] McClay needs to explain what he's trying to achieve behind closed doors and why he thinks trying to resuscitate the TPPA is a better option than looking for new opportunities," he said.

"We should be using this opportunity to change direction in our trade policy to support more transparency, better environmental outcomes, and an economy that works for everyone."

He said New Zealand should be looking to support the World Trade Organisation while multilateralism was under attack.

"While the Green Party would like to see reform of the WTO because it's not perfect, it is the only forum to reduce agricultural subsidies that are a major problem for New Zealand agricultural exporters, and to resolve trade disputes," he said.

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