I reckon the five nations comprising "Five Eyes" should come out of the shadows and cement their relationship by publicly formalising an economic and trade tie-up.
Right now the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance — comprising the English-speaking democracies US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — operates on an ostensibly loose format where each party can opt in or out of the security issue du jour.
But away from the spiky, headline-hogging Five Eyes statements critiquing China's breaches of cyber-security and human rights issues affecting Xinjiang and Hong Kong, there is another, more substantive economic agenda at play.
One of the intriguing questions about Trade Minister Damien O'Connor's trip to Washington DC this week is just how far New Zealand is engaged in the first steps towards ultimately formalising such a "five nations" — or alternatively an Indo-Pacific — economic agenda.
The DC stop-off has been promoted as an opportunity to deepen bilateral relations between O'Connor and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. He will also meet Kurt Campbell, the co-ordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council, the deputy secretary of commerce and more.
Tai has been credited as managing a subtle change in key to cement the United States' re-emerging trading relationships. She has been pointing the US back on to a multi-lateral track, instead of the isolationist "America First" approach introduced by former President Donald Trump.
Her own leadership been invaluable to O'Connor during his chairmanship this year of the Apec Trade Ministers agenda.
The fact that Apec is being hosted by New Zealand provided O'Connor a useful platform to introduce himself to his Asia-Pacific counterparts in quick pace after he took up the trade portfolio late last year.
Instead of having to make trips to multiple countries around the Asia-Pacific, those connections to 19 other trade ministers (apart from Papua New Guinea) were made virtually. His own importance was underlined through his chairmanship of the Apec trade ministers' meeting.
Particularly, the focus on ensuring that vital elements for vaccine production and medical equipment for fighting Covid-19 was not made more difficult through tariffs or behind the border barriers.
The upshot is that O'Connor has been invited to brief the G20 leaders on the progress made under New Zealand's leadership at their meeting in Sorrento, Italy this month.
China's bid to join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade pact was expected to feature in the bilateral talks between Tai and O'Connor.
This has the potential to be deeply divisive.
New Zealand is the formal depository for the CPTPP.
Beijing needs approval from all 11 signatories to join CPTPP, and may not succeed given strained relationships with some members.
Already, Australia is openly opposed to China's accession.
Ironically, former President Barack Obama negotiated the TPP in the first place to strengthen US economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific and to contain China's growing influence. Now China is set to beat the US to the punch.
Some elements of the US political establishment now believe the Chinese move could provide a useful breakpoint for the US to reassess its decision to walk away from the prior Trans-Pacific Partnership at Trump's direction. Former US trade minister and Ambassador to the US, Tim Groser, suggested in the Wall Street Journal this week that if the US recommits to TPP (now the CPTPP) it should be rechristened the Indo-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement — "a new name might make is easier to sell politically".
An intermediate step may be more preferable and easier to achieve.
O'Connor appears to want to ensure that while the US is not part of the CPTPP, New Zealand and the US are aligned when it come to assessing China's bid and not divided.
There is talk that a rebrand to a "five nations rather than five eyes" approach would be more palatable.
Such a move is not out of the question. In fact, Five Eyes finance ministers or Treasurers have been meeting for some time now to promote trade liberalisation.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson was on one such call in August last year, promoting the resumption of free trade.
The US think tank community has also kicked the prospect around.
Getting the US back into the CPTPP looks like a difficult process. A new deal between five nations that share security interests might be a better bet.