Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser expects to resume bilateral negotiations towards the Trans Pacific Partnership in two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, and talks have continued since the last ministerial meeting in Maui, Hawaii.
"Already there are numerous conversations going on. I'm having meetings all the time...constant conversations, telephone conversations, emails."
There is no date set yet for the next collective ministerial meeting but he said the Maui meeting created a sense of purpose.
"What I think is very clear is that there is a very, very strong shared sense that this negotiation needs to be brought to a conclusion now.
"Nothing is too big to fail and therefore no one can ever say for sure that TPP will certainly happen. But this has all the smell of a negotiation that is ripe for the plucking."
Mr Groser will be heading to Kuala Lumpur in the week after next for negotiations on a separate trade deal among 16 countries, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
"It is my strong expectation that I'll be having bilateral meetings on TPP in the course of that," he told the Herald.
He said the negotiations would be concluded by a series of "linked bilateral negotiations".
By the end of the Maui meeting, the three outstanding issues were opening up access to dairy products, intellectual property on pharmaceuticals and the auto industry.
While New Zealand had no standing in discussions over the auto industry, Mr Groser suggested the blockages there were more surprising than dairy.
"The upset over autos was clearly not understood until we got to the [Maui] meeting and arises directly out of this very strange process whereby the United States and Japan have reached some understandings that clearly do not accommodate Mexican and Canadian interests."
He said the World Trade Organization's Doha round was providing a reminder of what failure looked like.
"It is casting a positive influence on thinking - of reminding people what happens to a negotiation when people start to lose political interest and the politicians start to disengage from the negotiators."
However Mr Groser said the slump in milk prices would be having a negative psychological influence.
"It makes everybody nervous to open markets when the price is low."
Although he was sure the price going to rise before TPP ever starts to be implemented which would happen about two years after it was concluded.
Mr Groser also told the Herald he thought the negotiations would have benefited from having an independent chairman such as happens at WTO talks in Geneva.
"In the Geneva context you have an independent chair who is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the process and protecting the interests of countries that are too small to always be involved in all of the discussions."
There isn't one - that's the problem."In my view the process would have benefited from it - but this is a view of a small country."
So would it be possible for the United States, say, to do a deal on dairy with, say, Australia but not New Zealand? Technically, yes, Mr Groser said.
"There are no rules here. This is different from Geneva [WTO] where there are rules and procedures. It is a political constraint. It is not a rules constraint. Anyone can do anything technically that is completely outrageous.
"It is a question of where the political tolerances lie."
Meanwhile about 300 protesters gathered at Parliament today to protest against the TPP and listen to concerns of Labour, Green and New Zealand First MPs.
Green MP Russel Norman later questioned Mr Groser in the House about investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) under the TPP, pointing out the Australian Productivity Commission had advised against having such procedures in the TPP on the grounds it limited Governments' ability to regulate.
Mr Groser said Australia was arguing for the same "balanced" approach for ISDS in TPP.
He also said that New Zealanders had about $170 billion invested in other countries and there was a strong interest in ensuring that New Zealand investors were treated properly by Governments.
To Labour's David Parker, Mr Groser would not give an assurance that the TPP would not prevent a future Government from banning the sale of houses to foreign buyers from TPP countries.