Trade Minister Tim Groser says he is disappointed a landmark free-trade pact stumbled after talks broke down in Hawaii.

Negotiations among 12 Pacific nations failed to reach a conclusion.

"Good progress was made this week, but a number of challenging issues remain, including intellectual property and market access for dairy products", Mr Groser said.

"We will continue to work toward a successful conclusion. This is about getting the best possible deal for New Zealand, not a deal at any cost."

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Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are aimed at erasing most tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment among participants.

It would also clarify and standardize trade rules, making it easier for companies to sell goods and services in the Pacific Rim.

The wide-ranging discussions have addressed tariffs on autos, rice and dairy products, as well as intellectual property protections for pharmaceuticals.

Reading from a statement on behalf of all the ministers, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said they have agreed to be engaged intensively but haven't yet set a date yet for future discussions.

He said some issues are bilateral in nature, and some will involve groups.

The ministers, who have been meeting at a hotel on Maui's Kaanapali Beach since Tuesday, are more confident than ever that an agreement is within reach to support jobs and economic growth, the statement said.

The talks have also covered establishing environmental protections for participant nations, which range from developing countries like Vietnam to industrial powers like Japan.

The Obama administration has said a pact would boost U.S. economic growth and help keep high-quality jobs in the country by increasing exports.

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Critics have complained that the deal is being negotiated in secret and that it favors multinational corporations over workers and consumers.

The proposed deal is a central element of Obama's efforts to boost U.S. influence in Asia and to serve as an economic counterweight to China.

The U.S. came to the Maui round of negotiations strengthened by the Obama administration's successful legislative fight winning fast-track negotiating authority.

This allows Congress to approve or reject trade agreements, but not change or delay them.

The agreement was proposed by Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in 2002, but Washington has taken the lead in promoting it since joining the talks in 2008.

Participants include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

China, the world's second largest economy after the U.S., is not part of the talks but there's potential it could join the pact later.

Beijing has been negotiating a separate agreement with many of the same nations that's called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

This pact would cover 16 countries, including the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.