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NZ, Japan forge ahead with TPP

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/05/2017

Prime Minister Bill English says New Zealand and Japan have agreed to try and forge ahead with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership without the United States.

Following a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday (NZT), the two countries issued a joint statement saying there were committed to still getting the now 11-member trade deal signed off.

It also says they're open to the idea of new members joining.

Japan and New Zealand are the two nations that have ratified the deal, despite the withdrawal of the US - a key player in the agreement - since its signing last year.

There were concerns Japan, the second-largest economy in the deal, would withdraw after the US, but Mr English left the meeting telling reporters he was "very pleased" and that more had been achieved than expected.

The deal would come into action in the first half of 2018 under the current timetable, Mr English said.

Questions have been raised about whether the TPP would have to go through a long renegotiation process, given some of the deal's key features were issues pressed by the US.

Mr English said while some changes may be discussed, the current text would largely have to be used if the schedule was to be kept.

That position has drawn criticism from opponents of the already heavily protested deal in New Zealand this week, with some, such as Auckland University professor Jane Kelsey, asking why the US should benefit despite pulling out.

But Trade Minister Todd McClay said it was not unusual for non-member nations to get some benefits from trade deals.

Trade ministers from the remaining 11 original partner nations are reportedly expected to meet in Vietnam this weekend to adopt a statement committing them to implementing the TPP by the end of the year.

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