Prime Minister John Key has joined LinkedIn as a "global influencer" and shared his first post - a long opinion piece on free trade.

Key joined the social network last week and yesterday posted "Why I'm firmly in favour of free trade".

LinkedIn "influencer" is the title given to leaders in business and government who have been invited to post original thoughts on the social media site.

Posts can be on any topic of interest, such as government policy, leadership, management and entrepreneurship.

Other government leaders who are influencers on LinkedIn include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and Narendra Modi.

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Below is Key's piece:

New Zealand's place in the world is always the focus of much debate, perhaps exemplified most recently by the differing views on our country's membership of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Like many countries, the debate here revolves around issues like whether we should join trade agreements, welcome immigration or join international efforts to combat terrorism.

Two schools of thought stand out.

One is a very defensive position where people would have us put up barriers to imports and immigration and restrict investment.

Other people think New Zealand's future is in being an open, outward-facing country, welcoming of people and ideas from other countries, and part of wide-reaching global supply chains.

I'm firmly of the latter view.

Fortress New Zealand simply doesn't work - we tried it before and it failed.

Until 30 years ago, we sought shelter in tariffs and subsidies because we believed that's what we needed to do to survive. We tried to protect our businesses from the full force of international competition.

But we didn't get ahead. In fact, quite the opposite.

We were inefficient, insulated and inward-looking.

Then in the 1980s we were forced to forge our own path.

We went through enormous reforms, cutting subsidies, tearing down trade barriers and opening ourselves up to the world.

We emerged as a free trade trailblazer, setting the standard in a variety of industries and helping create the prosperity we enjoy today.

Because we forced ourselves to front up, we have gone from producing goods that could never have competed internationally to products that excel on the world stage.

The farmers and manufacturers of 1960s New Zealand could never have imagined the opportunities we are creating today.

As I've said many times, we won't get rich selling things to 4.5 million New Zealanders. But we could by selling to 4.5 billion people overseas. That's why strong international connections are important to New Zealand.

If we can get an equal crack at world markets, we're up there with the best in the world.

That opportunity is what free trade is about for New Zealand - and other outward-looking countries - and the TPP is our most significant free trade deal to date.

TPP will open up access to 800 million people around the world for the orchardist in Hawkes Bay, the winegrower in Marlborough, the dairy farmer in the Waikato, and the IT provider in Auckland.

In total, TPP is forecast to add at least NZ$2.7 billion a year to New Zealand's GDP by 2030.

And, as we saw from our FTA with China, these agreements have a tendency to exceed our expectations, to the benefit of all signatories.

Since we became the first developed country to sign an FTA with China in 2008 our exports there have almost tripled.

We also know trade helps preserve stability and prosperity within regions such as ours and around the world.

Getting diverse groups of countries around a table working together towards common goals means we are more likely to achieve those goals and iron out differences in constructive ways.

Ultimately we know that building stronger trade, diplomatic and security links is better for countries right around the world - including New Zealand.