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McClay heads to APEC for trade talks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/11/2016

New Zealand Minister of Trade Todd McClay © Fiona Goodall/Getty Images) New Zealand Minister of Trade Todd McClay New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay is heading to Peru to discuss the future of the flailing TPP agreement and a new Asia-Pacific deal with his APEC counterparts.

Mr McClay on Wednesday departs for Lima, where he will meet the trade and foreign ministers of the other 20 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum economies.

The forum brings together countries that make up about 60 per cent of the world's GDP and roughly 75 per cent of all of New Zealand's exports.

While there, ministers will be turning their attention to a proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), along with talks about regional food markets.

But many of the discussions at APEC happen in private meetings around the margins, and Mr Clay is expected to bring up the struggling Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been passed into New Zealand law, but faces serious challenges in the United States - a keystone nation of the agreement.

He'll also be talking to fellow ministers about the "Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership" (RCEP) - a proposed 10-member south-east Asian free trade deal.

"The Asia Pacific region remains a top trade focus for New Zealand. At this time it is important New Zealand continues to show leadership in defence of open markets and fair trade access," Mr McClay said.

"This year's meeting is an opportunity to discuss new ways to boost economic growth by increasing competitiveness and removing trade barriers for services."

Prime Minister John Key this week put off a trade and diplomatic trip to Argentina following Monday's magnitude 7.5 earthquake and has yet to confirm whether he will be attending the APEC Leader's Summit in Lima over the weekend.

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