19 Nov 2012

PM to talk free trade at East Asia Summit

12:02 pm on 19 November 2012

New Zealand's Prime Minister will be involved in the launch of negotiations for a free trade partnership involving several nations at this week's East Asia Summit in Cambodia.

John Key will join leaders from 10 southeast Asian countries, as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and new members Russia and the United States, at the meeting in Phnom Penh.

Mr Key says negotiations will begin towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involving the 10 ASEAN countries and their six free trade agreement partners.

He says the grouping of countries is very important to New Zealand, but there is some concern about the recent growth of the Asian region.

"It's been the only part of the world that's really been growing over the last four or five years, so it will be a good opportunity to see what other Asian nations are seeing, whether they are experiencing slowdown as well."

Mr Key says political, security and economic issues of common concern will be discussed at the meeting.

He expects to also be debriefed by United States president Barack Obama on what has happened since his re-election earlier in November.