US president Donald Trump was the unspoken presence at this week's Tripartite Economic Summit with the US-China trade war providing an, at times, uncomfortable backdrop.

Cabinet Minister Shane Jones who ruffles feathers deliberately in the New Zealand business sector, steered carefully through the minefield at the closing luncheon summit between Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou.

"At the moment our country New Zealand has a strong economic connection with China. The statistics speak for themselves," Jones said. "We have a strong historic and legacy relationship with the United States of America — we do wait in vain, however, for a