Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Obama TPP talk positive, says free trade group

John Key says NZ and the US understand each other and 'back each other up'. Photo / AP
John Key says NZ and the US understand each other and 'back each other up'. Photo / AP

Statements made by President Barack Obama about the TPP talks at the weekend have been welcomed by the New Zealand International Business Forum executive director, Stephen Jacobi.

Jacobi said references in a White House fact sheet issued the day of Prime Minister John Key's visit and Key's comment to the US Chamber of Commerce were important.

"They all reaffirm the notions of ambition and comprehensiveness which is what we were wanting to see."

The White House's reference to the 2011 Honolulu statement of TPP leaders meant the US remained committed to a tariff elimination in a single market access schedule, he said.

There has been growing concern in the past few months that the market access provisions of TPP could have ended up with different tariffs being applied to different countries on a quota basis, instead of tariffs being applied equally to all 12 country members.

"It looks as if the PM has pushed all the right buttons in Washington," Jacobi said.

"But all this needs to be carried through to the negotiation and the PM is right that the timeframe needs to be driven by substance."

Obama said on Saturday he wanted Congress and the public to have seen a document by the time he went to Apec in November.

Raw video - Obama meets John Key:

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The fact sheet issued by the White House said: "The President and the Prime Minister share a commitment to completing a high-standard, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that achieves the objectives to which TPP Leaders and Ministers agreed in Honolulu in 2011 as soon as possible."

There has been frustration about Japan's lack of movement in market access negotiations.

Key told a US Chamber of Commerce meeting that all countries, including Japan, had signed up to a comprehensive deal.

"If they can't meet those terms and the other 11 partners can, then we should get on and do a deal with those 11 partners."

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to visit New Zealand soon, Key said.

The next round of officials' talks are due to start on July 3 in Vancouver involving the 12 countries: New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan.

Jacobi said the Japanese would see these latest remarks very much in the context of Mr Key's visit to Washington.

"The bigger picture is that there is no point, from a business perspective, seeking to eject Japan or anyone else from the negotiation, even if that were possible. "

Japan's membership significantly raised the value of TPP and makes it a genuine pathway to wider liberalisation in the Asia Pacific region.

John Kerry - NZ stands by us:

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"Similarly Canada and Mexico are important for New Zealand and we would want to see them in, albeit with an ambitious outcome."

- NZ Herald

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