18 Feb 2017

No rush for NZ-Mexico trade talks

7:07 am on 18 February 2017

Trade Minister Todd McClay met with his Mexican counterpart earlier this week to discuss the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a potential bilateral trade deal.

Trade Minister Todd McClay and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

Trade Minister Todd McClay (left) and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo. Photo: RNZ / AFP

Mr McClay said Mexico was a big market and there were opportunities to sell more goods there.

"It has the opportunity to be a comprehensive agreement for us, but exactly how we might formalise that between governments, we need to take a bit of time.

"After all, as far as TPP is concerned, it's only been three or four weeks since the United States decided to pull out. We have some time in front of us where we can contemplate fully what the next steps may be and where the most benefit might be," Mr McClay said.

Mr McClay asked officials to do some work looking at the value of a TPP agreement without the United States.

TPP ministers will meet in Chile next month. China has also been invited to the gathering, to meet with representatives of countries in the Latin American trade bloc the Pacific Alliance.

"China is a country that New Zealand has an important trade relationship, as with many of the other countries who'll be at the meeting too," Mr McClay said.

"This is about finding ways to set fair and clear rules across the Asia Pacific that are going to help economies grow through better access to each other's markets. That kind of a conversation is imperative for New Zealand to be involved in."

Mr McClay intends travelling to the US at some stage to discuss trade matters, though Robert Lighthizer is yet to be confirmed as the US trade representative.

US president Donald Trump favours bilateral trade deals, arguing other countries have taken advantage of America.

"The prospect of a bilateral agreement with the US is likely to be some way off and I think it's likely to be very, very difficult," Mr McClay said.

"But in the meantime, we want to make sure we have a positive relationship with the US administration and we continue to find ways for New Zealand companies to do well in the US market."