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

John Key disappointed but not surprised by Trump's TPP announcement

Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed but not surprised by Donald Trump's announcement that he would give notice to pull out the TPP on day one of his US presidency.

On the campaign trail, Trump had said he would do so in the first 100 days, but that has been elevated to a Day One commitment, after he is sworn in on January 20.

In a video statement, Trump appeared to leave no room for a renegotiation of the deal which the US led among 12 countries.

He called it "a potential disaster for our country."

"Instead we will negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring job and industry onto American shores."

Key told reporters in Auckland after touring the visiting US warship USS Sampson that one of the alternatives was that the other 11 countries of the TPP move forward with the deal.

Key acknowledged that Trump campaigned against TPP but added: "The United States isn't an island. It can't just sit there and say it isn't going to trade with the rest of the world so at some point they are going to have to give some consideration to that but naturally we are a bit disappointed."

Meanwhile, with the prospect of the TPP's advantages being diminished without the US, the Government is stepping up its own trade initiatives and reaching across the aisle for a bipartisan approach.

Trade Minister Todd McClay has invited Opposition MPs to join him on a trade mission next week to Iran and Europe.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will join McClay on a trip to Italy, France and Britain, and Labour trade spokesman David Clark will join McClay and 17 New Zealand companies on a trade mission to Iran.

McClay will also visit Warsaw to seek the backing of the Polish Government for a NZ-EU free trade agreement, which is likely to be launched next year if there are no objections from member states.

The cross-party initiative is important in the context of recent opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by Labour, which has traditionally been supportive of free trade; and New Zealand First's historic opposition to free trade deals.

Winston Peters is off to check out agricultural protectionism in Italy and France. Photo/ George Novak
Winston Peters is off to check out agricultural protectionism in Italy and France. Photo/ George Novak

Even when Peters was Foreign Minister, he opposed Labour's major accomplishment in completing a free trade deal with China.

McClay said the mission was designed to promote New Zealand goods and services in the lucrative and significant EU market.

"Italy, France and the United Kingdom are collectively worth more than $9.2 billion of two-way trade and are home to 190 million consumers."

The Europe mission would engage directly with New Zealand businesses and their counterparts to enhance New Zealand's trade presence.

McClay said the Iran visit was an important first step towards delivering on a potential $1 billion market for sheep meat and butter.

Peters told the Herald he did not oppose free and fair trade if it was good for New Zealand.

"But when it is not free, not fair, not equal, we are opposed to it."

The only trade deals he has supported are the CER with Australia, a deal with Pacific Island states, and the unpublished deal with Russia, which was put on ice after Russia annexed Crimea.

Peters said he would be using the trip to Italy and France to assess whether protectionism in the EU had changed.

"The agricultural protectionism of the EU is a huge barrier. I just want to know in a studious way what is changing here. Is there going to be a change here. For that reason I am interested to know."

- NZ Herald

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