John Key says he is increasingly confident a trade deal will be signed with the United States, after a week-long trip to America, where the Prime Minister met with high-level US trade representatives and US President Barack Obama.
Interviewed on TVNZ's Q&A programme in Washington after his half hour meeting with Obama, Key said progress had been made in talks for the US joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, but still refused to discuss specific details.
There are concerns New Zealand's intellectual property laws, and its drug-buying agency Pharmac, may be in line for a shake-up as US lobby groups pressure trade negotiators to push for New Zealand law changes for the deal to be made.
Despite its prominence in the local TPP debate, Key said Pharmac had not been the issue people had been pushing in the talks.
"Intellectual property is an issue of concern, and that's because this is a knowledge-based economy, not a manufacturing-based economy. It creates knowledge," Key said on Q&A.
"By definition we're in the middle of the negotiation and so, you know, I can't run those negotiations through the media. What I would say is, you know, I'm increasingly confident that we will get a deal done, but it's not without its challenges," Key said.
"That means everybody puts everything on the table and starts negotiating our way through, but in the end, we're going to do what's in the best interests of New Zealand. It's my view that Pharmac works extremely well. So we didn't get into the weeds into the particular issues, but we did speak of wanting to complete a deal," he said.
"And, you know, I think New Zealanders can take a lot of confidence from the fact that we have some incredibly skilled negotiators, they know what they doing and Tim Groser, the Minister of Trade, has had probably the most experience at being the minister of trade we've had, so I'm confident we're going to come out the other end with a deal that's good for New Zealand."