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NZ exporters want TPP talks to push on

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/01/2017 Sean Martin
New Zealand Minister of Trade Todd McClay. © Fiona Goodall/Getty Images New Zealand Minister of Trade Todd McClay.

Exporters want Trade Minister Todd McClay to push ahead with talks to save the Trans-Pacific Partnership rather than wasting years of work on the trade deal.

Final hopes the US would ratify the deal were dashed on Wednesday when President Donald Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the country from the 12-nation agreement.

Mr McClay will head to the US to discuss the potential for a bilateral trade deal with the US, but exporters don't want him to give up on the original agreement.

"The partners who have worked so hard negotiating the deal to this point don't want to go back to square one," ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard said on Thursday.

A bilateral agreement would make the larger, stronger partner the biggest winner, something Mr Trump has indicated he would expect from a bilateral agreement.

"Having the same rules of engagement for several partners within a multilateral deal is far preferable and reduces the transaction and trading costs for all involved," Ms Beard said.

But the call of exporters comes day after Green MP Barry Coates called on exporters to be given less consideration in trade agreements and for the benefits of all New Zealanders to become the priority.

He called for a "fundamental rethink" of trade agreements that he believes trade small but obvious benefits of tariff reductions for unquantifiable

Prime Minister Bill English indicated on Tuesday that it was possible the TPP could be shelved for a later US administration but said New Zealand was open to discussing a bilateral deal with the US in the interim.

But that's unlikely given some of the terms Mr Trump has indicated, including a 30-day exit clause and the idea the US would come out on top.

According to Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey there is still a possibility the TPP could continue in its current form with the remaining 11 nations.

That would require ratification by Japan, Australia, Canada and either Mexico or a combination of four other nations to get over the 85 per cent of group GDP threshold.

That prospect is unlikely though. Japanese Prime Minsiter Shinzo Abe has previously said the agreement "has no meaning" without the US, while Australia's Parliament hadn't ratified the deal even before the US pulled out.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flagged the potential for China to join the agreement, but Labor trade spokesman Jason Clare said that was unlikely given anti-corruption, environmental and labour clauses.

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