Trade window 'closes mid 2015'
The Trans-Pacific Partnership faces a crucial "window of opportunity" that will close in mid 2015 if no deal is done, Prime Minister John Key said today after a summit of the 12 nations involved in the proposed regional free trade deal.
The meeting, called by United States President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Beijing, was held in the United States embassy.
Key said the mid 2015 date was driven by the political timetable in the United States.
"If it doesn't happen by then, you'd never say never but it becomes a lot more difficult."
After July or August next year, when US lawmakers went on their 2015 summer break, the emphasis would swing to the next presidential election, even though in principle Obama would still have a year or more still in the White House.
"The challenge now is for us to bring home the bacon and the question is, can we do that? I believe the answer is yes."
Key said he had talked to Obama for about five minutes at the end of the meeting.
Obama had said publicly and privately that he believed in the TPP and that it was important for growth and was a "legacy item" for him.
Key said each country had issues to work its way through, and there was a lot of work ahead before the TPP could be signed. It had been in train since he took office in 2008, and he noted other international trade talks, such as the Doha round, had stalled.
Some leaders had a more difficult job selling the free trade deal to their domestic audience than he had because in New Zealand most people accepted the benefits of free trade.
His message to the meeting was there were always people in every country opposed to free trade deals, but it did not matter whether it was a good deal or a bad deal they would still object.
Key said he had not talked to Obama about New Zealand's role in the fight against Islamic State.
They would likely discuss that on Tuesday.