Trade Minister Tim Groser has told the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC that the current Doha round of world trade talks needed to be completed, warning the financial climate was pressuring governments to "do things that are expedient, rather than wise".

Groser arrived in the United States on Tuesday for meetings with US trade representative Ron Kirk and the US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern during his May 12-15 visit.

He called international trade "a hard sell", which frequently encountering violent opposition across the world.

"Even before the finance sector melt-down there were losers as well as winners. Now the bubble has burst there are many more people with reason to be anxious about their futures," he said.

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Doha talks needed completing, with the current crisis offering an opportunity for "fundamental reform", he said.

"Any final deal we can finesse in the current Doha Round will involve the elimination of export subsidies. It will involve massive - up to 80 per cent - cuts in trade-distorting support and significant cuts in agriculture tariffs ."

Groser cautioned the world was in "another one of those periods when governments are under pressure to look inwards and do things that are expedient rather than wise."

The trade minister also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade proposal involving eight countries, including the United States and New Zealand.

Groser said partner countries needed to think of expanding beyond the starting eight members.

"Whether the initiative can deliver on its true potential will hinge on our ability to build it into a larger group that includes other major markets in the region such as Japan," he said.

The members of the WTO launched the Doha round in 2001 to help developing countries prosper through trade.

Groser said trade had been transformed through "disruptive technologies" -- including the first Apple Mac, launched in 1984, the 1985 launch of Intel's 386 processor, the 1989 launch of the 400-series 747 and the emergence of the World Wide Web as a popular and commercially-accessable phenomenon with the release of the Netscape browser in the 1990s.

Through the technology-driven "opening up the world", speed of change outpaced regulatory frameworks - leading in part to the current situation, he said.

"The speed at which the process moves forward is not convenient to New Zealand ... But we New Zealanders pride ourselves on seeing the trading world as it is, not as we would like it to be."