8 Oct 2013

PM confident TPP deal can be done by year's end

12:33 am on 8 October 2013

The Prime Minister and the head of the New Zealand United States Council are both confident a Pacific-wide trade deal can be completed by the end of the year.

John Key is in Bali for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, and tomorrow will chair a meeting of the 11 other leaders involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

There are concerns the talks might falter because United States President Barack Obama is not in Bali due to the partial shutdown of the US government.

Mr Key concedes Mr Obama will be missed but is guardedly optimistic about the end of year time frame.

"It is possible to achieve that, but it's very difficult to judge exactly and the timing is something which could move. I mean you wouldn't want to bet the ranch on the fact that a deal is agreed by the end of the year, but ... let's see the momentum we can generate."

Mr Key warns the leaders have only one shot at getting a comprehensive, high-quality deal, and a second-rate agreement would be a poor outcome.

President's absence from APEC 'disappointing'

The New Zealand United States Council says the American president's absence from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit is disappointing.

Council executive director Stephen Jacobi, who is in Bali, says the talks are bigger than Mr Obama and an agreement should still be finalised by the end of 2013.

But Mr Jacobi told Morning Report the president would have brought his own chemistry to the negotiations.

"And also other people in the region are wanting to see that the Americans can really walk the talk when it comes to building greater integration in the region.

"And I suppose the risk is that they may be less willing to make the necessary commitment themselves if they're not convinced that America is going to do so as well."

Trip to China over botulism scare

Mr Key met the Chinese president Xi Jinping in Bali on Sunday and the prime minister is planning to travel to China early next year to explain the results from the several inquiries into Fonterra's false alarm over food safety.

Mr Key hopes that will show the Chinese how seriously New Zealand takes food safety.

"It will be helpful to do that, to take them through the findings of the inquiry, any changes that might take place, a reiteration of our commitment to their consumers, to that market and to those world class safety standards."

He says the Chinese president expressed confidence New Zealand's small infant-formula exporters would be able to recover their trade, which was badly damaged by contamination fears.