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New Zealand ratifies TPP agreement

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017

New Zealand has formally ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal just days before Prime Minister Bill English heads to Japan for discussions over its future without the United States.

The two countries are the first to ratify the agreement which fell apart after years of negotiations when US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement, calling it a "job killing disaster".

Trade Minister Todd McClay has met with the leaders of a number of partner nations since the withdrawal to discuss alternative ways forward.

The decision was made for New Zealand's cabinet to ratify on Monday in a show of leadership with the Japanese government, which has been a major force in trying to revive a deal with the TPP 11.

A TPP five, including New Zealand, Australia and Japan, is also an option being considered.

Mr English and Mr McClay will travel to Japan next week for discussions on trade and it's expected finding an alternative to the original will be a major part of those talks.

"It is an agreement that still has value for New Zealand and we think a common set of rules across the Asia-Pacific will give greater certainty for New Zealand exporters, it's keeping all of our options open," he said.

Mr McClay will chair a meeting of TPP trade ministers next month when he attends the APEC Trade Ministers' meeting in Vietnam.

"We'll have a chance to consider some of those [alternative] options and see what the next steps forward might be," he said.

It's expected a number of the remaining 11 partner nations will also ratify the agreement in the coming months.

"In as far as New Zealand's concerned any agreement that offers better access for our New Zealand exporters it's worth us putting effort in and we'll continue to push that agenda," he said.

Ahead of his visit Mr English described Japan as a key element of any alternative TPP agreement and said the atmosphere was positive around coming up with a suitable alternative.

"[Ratification by New Zealand and Japan] is another indication to the other nine countries that there's a core of interest, with New Zealand showing some initiative in progressing the TPP," he said.

"I'll be putting New Zealand's case for advancing without the US, and I think we'd like to think in the long run the US would become part."

BusinessNZ, Federated Farmers and Export NZ welcomed the announcement.

"Even without the US, the TPP is still good for New Zealand," said BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

"Better access to more markets in the TPP means more jobs in towns and cities across New Zealand."

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said it sent a strong signal to a hesitant global trade environment.

"Japan and our fellow Asia Pacific nations need to be congratulated for continuing to support the TPP - it is enormously important for New Zealand."

The remaining countries are New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Chile, Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia and Peru.

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