Hopes of hammering out a final deal on the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership agreement this year appear to be fading, Prime Minister John Key indicated this afternoon.
Fresh from talks in the White House with US President Barack Obama, where the trade deal featured highly on the agenda, Mr Key told reporters today that a round of talks scheduled for July "would help".
"But I myself don't think you'll get much of either a decision or movement pre the mid-term elections in the United States, and they're in November."
That meant the agreement would now "possibly" be finalised in 2015.
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"'But my whole argument around TPP and just generally in terms of trade deals has been that it's not worth sacrificing the quality of the deal for timing."
"'It's better to wait a little bit longer and get a better deal than sacrifice it the other way around."
A sticking point has been Japanese reluctance to open market access in its agricultural sectors, but Mr Key said New Zealand was unenthusiastic about a deal which compromises with Japan in those areas.
"'We want to have a high level comprehensive deal, and without that obviously you reduce the benefits to New Zealand. Obviously every country in there has some sensitivities, and New Zealand's is agriculture, America's is intellectual property and SOEs, everyone's is a little bit different.
"I just think that until a deal is finally completed everybody should shoot for the best possible deal. There's a point at which if it wasn't good enough for New Zealand we wouldn't be in it."