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Key says TPP without US on table

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/11/2016 By Boris Jancic

<span style="font-size:13px;">If the US won't ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the deal may have to be redrawn without the world's biggest economy, Prime Minister John Key says.</span> © Getty Images If the US won't ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the deal may have to be redrawn without the world's biggest economy, Prime Minister John Key says. If the United States wants out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership it may have to happen without the United States, Prime Minister John Key says.

Following a red-carpet welcome in Peru ahead of this weekend's APEC Leader's Meeting, Mr Key told reporters this year's summit was vital because of doubts hanging over regional trade agreements following the election Donald Trump as US president.

"We need to get to a point where if we can't get the United States to agree free trade is a good thing under President Donald Trump, we [APEC countries] ourselves have to collectively agree," he said.

The prime minister is set to attend a meeting of the 12 TPP member countries to discuss whether there's a way to salvage the controversial trade deal in the face of opposition from Mr Trump.

"Really the flavour we are getting out of a number of TPP countries is that if they couldn't get there with the United States, they'd rather go it alone than not get there at all," Mr Key said.

"If we couldn't get there with the United States, [access to] Japan would still be worth it."

But Mr Key said he was still holding out hope Mr Trump would change his position - possibly in exchange for minor concessions - saying going back up to the table would be a messy process and better access the US would need to be achieved sooner or later.

"My preferred option is definitely with the United States, if we can," he said.

"As we know in the United States, what happens on a campaign trail and ultimately what happens in reality when someone assumes the oval office can be a bit different."

New Zealand has already passed the laws required to ratify the TPP.

With the deal on ice, members will also be looking to promote a proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific - which could include all APEC states - and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - a 16-member deal covering south-east Asia.

Mr Key said if the TPP was not acceptable to Mr Trump, FTAAP was unlikely to do better. But RCEP - which includes Korea, India and China but excludes the US - could be a better prospect, he said.

On the sidelines over the weekend, the prime minister is expected to hold formal one-on-one talk with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Peru's Pedro Kuczynski and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

He's also hoping to fit in a farewell chat with outgoing US President Barack Obama.

The APEC summit brings together the leaders of 21 Pacific economies that make up 60 per cent of the world's GDP and about three quarters of New Zealand's export markets.

Mr Key's trip to South America has been cut to just two days after he opted to stay in New Zealand in the wake of Monday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

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