Jacinda Ardern gets down to business at the East Asia Summit today in Bangkok with double-header trade announcements expected and a three-hour meeting with Asian leaders to thrash out regional problems.
But on the trade front, Ardern said from her own experience that anything could happen with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which includes India.
In the first trade announcement, leaders of 16 countries in the RCEP trade negotiations (started in 2012) are expected to announce a partial completion of the deal even though India remains a reluctant player.
And it is likely that the upgrade of New Zealand's 2008 FTA with China (started in 2016) will get the final tick in a meeting between Ardern and Premier Li Keqiang, possibly late tonight.
Ardern's first overseas outing as Prime Minister was to Vietnam where the TPP was about to be concluded but after a dramatic series of events, it was delayed by four months.
"If I learned anything from those early attendances at meetings within the region, where there's a trade agenda, anything can happen," she told the Herald ahead of the summit.
"In my mind CPTPP and [RCEP] feels to me like we are at a similar point in the negotiation where there's a significant amount of pressure to conclude and a real unknown factor there."
She said for New Zealand, India was an important part of the agreement "but at the same time there are a number of countries that just wish to see completion".
On the China upgrade she was hopeful of concluding and announcing the conclusion of the upgrade very soon.
Asked if she thought it could be delayed because New Zealand joined other UN countries last week in a statement aimed as pressing China on the detention of Uighers in Xinjiang, Ardern said: "I'm absolutely comfortable that we have been really consistent, that I have taken the opportunity to raise it face to face [with Chinese leaders] ... but also alongside others within multilateral forums."
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will be at the summit, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who plays an increasingly important leadership role in trade, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Indonesia President Joko Widodo.
RCEP is an agreement of two halves: one on the rules of trade among the 16 countries, and the other a series of market-access agreements among the countries.
Negotiations on the rules have been completed and that may be trumpeted despite market access being the sticking point.
The rules are not without benefit to New Zealand. For example, getting certification for the export of seafood which can take several days at present will be reduced to six hours in RCEP countries.
But market access is the problem area for India, especially in sensitive areas such as agriculture, and it has concerns about its domestic market being flooded with Chinese goods.
India has been the raison d'etre of the RCEP trade talks, because most of the other participants (the 10 Asean countries, plus China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) already have free trade deals with each other. The whole purpose of RCEP was to draw India into modern trading arrangements.
But India has remained reluctant throughout and rendered it the least ambitious trade negotiations New Zealand has been a part of.
Officials and trade ministers, including Damien O'Connor, continued negotiations in Bangkok over the weekend and O'Connor is due to visit India straight after it in a trip that will focus on market access arrangements.
Expectations were lowered last year because Mod faced an election and trade was a sensitive subject but he returns to this year's summit with the election over, and having secured an outright majority.
Among the issues likely to get an airing today are the South China Sea, persecution of Rohingya by Myanmar, climate change, and missile testing by North Korea.
KEY PLAYERS AT EAST ASIA SUMMIT
India PM Narendra Modi
Modi is the man of the moment at the summit over what leadership he gives to the RCEP trade negotiations.
Indonesia President Joko Widodo
Re-elected this year for another four years and targeted by Ardern for closer relations.
Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi
Can expect to face questions at the summit about the Rohingya Muslims forced out of Rakhine.
South Korea President Moon Jae-in
Has become something of a pal of Ardern's and is expected to report to others on last week's latest missile testing by North Korea.