Key to join Obama in push for trade deal

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2012
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BACK TOGETHER: Prime Minister John Key will meet US President Barack Obama today for the first time since March.

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Prime Minister John Key will meet re-elected United States President Barack Obama today for the first time since March.

Aides said yesterday that leaders at the twin Pacific power forums - the Association of South East Asian Nations and East Asian Summit - will also take part in a high-level push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr Key said leaders would use the 90-minute talks to thrash out whether or not the pact could be completed next year.

"The really good news is that President Obama, on the back of his win, is now going straight into a meeting where he is affirming his support for the TPP. That's good news for New Zealand because that's our chance of getting a free trade agreement with America," Mr Key said.

"I believe he has always been very committed to the Trans Pacific Partnership . . . I'll be interested in what he has got to say tomorrow."

The deal was complex, there were several partners "and it will take some political goodwill", Mr Key said.

He and Mr Obama last met at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March. Mr Key is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for an annual leaders' summit of the EAS - where the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will be launched.

The free trade pact will encompass 16 countries and a quarter of the world's economy.

Unlike the TPP, it also includes economic powerhouses China and India.

But as RCEP is a fledging initiative - and TPP will enter its 15th round of talks next month, in Auckland - the older pact is likely to be concluded first. RCEP is unlikely to be wrapped up before the end of 2015.

"Both of them are great opportunities," Mr Key said, but TPP "is a long way advanced".

During the next two days, Mr Key will catch up with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, among others.

Last night, Mr Key and other world powerbrokers were expected to attend a glittering gala dinner at Phnom Penh's Diamond Island, hosted by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Tomorrow he will visit the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to meet judge and former governor-general Dame Silvia Cartwright, before flying on to Yangon in Myanmar.

It will be New Zealand's first prime ministerial visit to that country. Mr Obama is also there this week to support Myanmar's emergence from repressive military rule towards democracy.

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- The Dominion Post

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