Rotorua MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay has his work cut out for him after Prime Minister Bill English asked him to head to the United States at the earliest opportunity.

Mr McClay said, while the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in its current form, was now off the table, he had been instructed to head to the United States to start talks on a possible bi-lateral trade deal.

He could be the first New Zealand politician to meet new president Donald Trump, but suggested he would probably meet Trump's new trade negotiators instead.

"President Trump's decision is of concern to New Zealand and we will have to work extra hard on that relationship.


"I don't know if I would met with President Trump, but the whole world is trying to meet with representatives of the new administration.

"Our concerns are that he wants deals that are only good for the US and this could mean he will want concessions from New Zealand that we are not comfortable with."

He said he hoped to make it to the US by late February or early March.

"We have put requests in already, but they are not in a position to take those up as yet.

"But if an opportunity came up before that, I'll be straight on a plane.

"There are still countries looking to move ahead with the TPP in another form without them, but it's too early to predict if this will happen.

He said Mr English had asked him to do two things.

"I will be going to the US soon to meet members of the Trump administration about trade, but we still don't know who their trade representative will be and who we will engage with.

"But, it is important to get there quite quickly, because we sell them about $5.5 billion of products annually."

He said total trade with the US totalled about $11 billion annually.

"So it's very important to ensure that access remains while, at the same time, looking for greater opportunities in that market."

He said President Trump had been clear about the US wanting to undertake bi-lateral trade deals instead of the TPP.

"The TPP gave us rights for better access and now we have to go and talk about trying to secure that access.

"The Prime Minister has also asked me to prioritise some of the other TPP countries and I have started to talking to some of them on the phone and in Switzerland recently I spoke to about five or six of them ... such as Australia, Singapore, Japan and Mexico."

He said there was no sense of panic within the government and he would be kept busy with multiple trade negotiations on the table.

"We'll be launching trade negotiations with Europe later this year and we are in a very good space with the UK who are keen to do deal with us as soon as possible.

"There's also a large deal with Asia that's tracking along well, including the India free trade agreement.

"I also met the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and we will meet again in New Zealand to talk about what a trade deal would mean."