PM John Key accepts little chance US will agree to TPPA any time soon, after Trump win
SAM SACHDEVA AND JO MOIR
John Key has put any hope of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) passing in the near future on the back burner, following Donald Trump's election as president.
However, Trade Minister Todd McClay is putting on a brave face, insisting it is "too soon to know" what will happen with the free trade deal.
Opposition to the TPPA - a 12-nation free trade deal including New Zealand which has been years in the making - was a key plank in Trump's campaign.
On Thursday the Prime Minister said it was "fairly unlikely" the TPPA would pass by the US Congress in the lame duck period before Trump takes over on January 20.
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"I don't think we should abandon the hope of getting a free trade agreement with the United States...once Donald Trump is sworn in...then I think we'll sit around the table and work out the best way forward."
Trump had been deeply opposed to the TPPA and it was hard to believe Congress would vote for something he was so set against.
The deal was signed by trade ministers from 12 Pacific rim countries - although not China - in Auckland in February, concluding seven years of negotiations.
Key said at the time it was "overwhelmingly in the best interests of our country and citizens".
'TOO SOON TO KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN'
McClay said it was "too soon to know exactly what will happen" with the TPPA, despite Trump's public opposition.
"Mr Trump's been very clear about his view of TPP, but I think we need to let the new administration come in and settle.
"We do a lot of trade with America, there's a leadership role they will continue to play in world trade, but the next steps for TPP are a conversation that the 12 countries will end up having together, probably only when the new administration's in place."
McClay said the Government would move ahead with ratifying the TPPA in New Zealand - the third reading will take place later on Thursday - despite its future still being up in the air.
"We've been working through this all of this year, there's been wide and broad consultation, the pathway to TPP entering into force is less certain…[but] we don't have enough debates about trade, it's an opportunity for us to have another one."
TRUMP 'WON'T HALT LIBERALISATION'
The success of New Zealand's economy was underpinned by its trade with the rest of the world, and Trump's election would not halt "the drive towards liberalisation and greater integration of trade agreements", he said.
"The world is not going to stop and say, 'We think that was a fun process but actually we're going to go back and put up barriers' - indeed, if the world did put up more trade barriers, that would be quite detrimental to the New Zealand economy.
"We've continued to argue for liberalisation and we will continue to, with all of our friends and partners."
Key said his office had written to formally congratulate Trump but unlike Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he hadn't spoken to him direct.
"At some point we'll invite him down here.
"Donald Trump, whatever an individual or anyone in the world thinks of him, is going to be sworn in on the 20th of January as the 45th President of the United States of America. We all better get used to that," he said.
Key expected the Republican-dominated US government would change Obama's healthcare legislation - known as Obamacare - because they thought it was driving up health insurance premiums for average Americans, and did not do enough for those who were not covered.
"But will that mean that every American that wasn't covered that became covered under Obamacare will get no cover again? I don't think so because the very reason Obama was doing that - other than the sheer empathy towards those people - was because they still ultimately cost the US system."