Prime Minister John Key has indicated the countries involved in a Pacific-wide trade deal have until August next year to reach agreement.
Speaking at the APEC summit in China, Mr Key said If they do not, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be put on the backburner for a couple of years at least.
He said the desire among the leaders of the 12 TPP countries to complete the deadlocked talks was strong.
But he warned an agreement needed to be reached by August next year, or it will be too close to the next United States presidential election in 2016 to get anything done.
"If President Obama is going to see TPP completed under his watch, then you'll need to see a positive outcome from the meeting today and the meetings in the early new year," Mr Key said.
Despite the talks remaining complex and controversial, Mr Key said he was not contemplating the possibility they will fail.