22 Feb 2011

Moore hoses down trade deal fears

6:15 am on 22 February 2011

New Zealand's ambassador to Washington says this country should not be concerned about the United States making overly tough demands in trade talks.

Prime Minister John Key told business leaders meeting in Christchurch on Monday that he expects demands in the TransPacific Partnership of a kind not confronted in previous free-trade deals.

Critics say the US could demand tougher enforcement of copyright and the dismantling of the drug-buying agency Pharmac.

But Mike Moore, a former World Trade Organisation head, says New Zealand will not sign a trade deal unless it is in the country's best interests.

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the US-NZ Council calls for closer political and military ties between the countries, including joint cabinet meetings annually.

One of the authors says the US wants to counter China's increasing influence in the region.