Trade ministers from 16 Pacific Islands Forum countries have agreed to the legal text of the proposed PACER Plus regional free trade agreement.
Friday's talks in Christchurch were a significant step towards implementing the agreement, which is expected to be signed later this year.
New Zealand's trade minister, Todd McClay, said he was delighted with the progress that had been made towards finalising PACER Plus.
The proposed agreement has been controversial, with some groups arguing it favours New Zealand and Australia to the detriment of small Pacific economies.
The countries involved reject this, saying it's significant to their economic prosperity.
At the meeting, New Zealand and Australia announced a US$5.8 million funding package for Pacific countries for the ratification process, which will include customs, revenue and legislative support.