Trade Minister Tim Groser is optimistic a free trade agreement deal with South Korea can be signed by the end of the year.
The talks, which Mr Groser describes as difficult, resumed late last year after a four-year hiatus.
A main sticking point is how far South Korea will go to open its agricultural market, which levies $195 million a year from New Zealand exporters. Officials from both countries held the latest round of talks in Seoul earlier this month.
Mr Groser said he was likely to conclude an agreement soon, though he could guarantee it. "If the Koreans are ready to do it this afternoon we'll do it this afternoon," he said.
Prime Minister John Key will join South Korea's president, Park Guen-hye, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting next month.
Trade advocate Stephen Jacobi, executive director of the International Business Forum, said it was important a deal with South Korea was concluded, or exporters could be cut out of an important market.
Mr Jacobi said said South Korea has already signed free-trade deals with many of New Zealand's rivals, and this country's exporters cannot afford to keep paying higher tariffs than them.
"The main thing is that we get parity for some of our major exporters in the Korean market. After all they're not competing against Koreans, they're competing against other exporters - that's particularly the case for our kiwifruit industry and for our beef industry."
Mr Jacobi says any bilateral deal will be revisited if the multi-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which South Korea is keen to join, is successfully concluded.