US Secretary of State John Kerry holds out hope that the Trans Pacific Partnership deal will still be passed, possibly with some adjustments.
At a press conference in Wellington today he said the fact that it may not be passed in the current Congress did not mean that ended the issue.
He expected there would be further "robust" debate on the deal.
"As people examine it and get beyond the campaign and get to dig into it, my hope is that it can summon the support that it needs and if not immediately, that there are tweaks here and there, and things that could be done in order to address some of the concerns that people have."
Kerry said the concerns about trade deals raised during presidential election campaign were really about social and economic policy than about trade itself.
He said there was enormous room to do better on trade but not to abandon it.
"I think we have to wait and see where we wind up on this debate as the new Administration comes in next year."
Kerry acknowledged concerns about the benefits of trade not flowing "all the way down the economic chain the way it should."
"But that's not because of the trade, per se," he said.
That was because of policies that affected wages or benefits, affordable health care and whether there was enough work to pay the mortgage and send the kids to school.
"That's more social policy and structural economic policy in a country than it is something directly related to the trade."
Trade, if it was fair, was essential for growth and development and prosperity and stability of nations all around the world.
President-elect Donald Trump promised to withdraw the US from TPP and to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Canada and Mexico.
The TPP was negotiated over five years and led by the United States. It involved 12 Asia Pacific countries, including New Zealand, but not China which is leading an alternative but lower quality deal in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Kerry today dismissed a widely held belief that China would benefit strategically in the Asia Pacific if the TPP was dumped by the next United States Government.
He was asked if the failure of the US to ratify the TPP meant it was ceding ground to China in the Asia Pacific region and leaving the door open for China to consolidate its position.
Kerry said he wanted to emphasise that the TPP was never about China.
"The TPP is about our economies. It is about our people, it is about prosperity.
"It's not about China.
"The TPP is about our economies. It is about our people, it is about prosperity.It's not about China."John Kerry
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
"The United States welcomes the peaceful rise of a great nation like China. We have said that directly to President Xi [Jinping] and to the Chinese.
"And we are not looking for competition or conflict, we are looking for co-operation and we found it in many ways on climate change.
"We hope to find it on other development policies and other things we are working on now."
The TPP has been widely seen as a means by which the United States expands its economic activity in the Asia Pacific region in the face of China's economic rise.
It was the central theme of a speech Prime Minister John Key gave in New York recently when he urged the US to ratify TPP during the term of the current Congress.
"If TPP fails to get ratified during the lame-duck period, it will be a massive lost opportunity for the United States, both for their consumers and business but also for the geopolitics of the region," Key told Council for Foreign Relations.
"Because in the end if that vacuum isn't filled by the United States, it will be filled by somebody else."