This year's Apec has been as much a security summit for Prime Minister John Key as a trade and economic summit. With the Cabinet preparing to make a decision soon on New Zealand's contribution to training Iraqi military, Mr Key has used the trip to Asia to talk to traditional friends about Isis: President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In fact, Mr Key has spent more time with Mr Abbott in the past two weeks than in the previous 13 months since he was elected and all in military settings: in Albany, Perth for the 100th anniversary of the departure of Anzac troops; at Darwin Air Force base on a stopover to Beijing; and at an intimate Remembrance Day service yesterday in the courtyard of the Australian Embassy.

Mr Key's close involvement with Mr Obama over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, including the five-hour golf game last summer, has almost certainly made discussions about military co-operation all the more easy.

Mr Key also began his bilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak by asking him how many foreign fighters he had.

Advertisement

Mr Key has not yet revealed the content of his other private meetings but it is safe to assume the hope is for New Zealand to commit more, not less. The day before Apec, Mr Obama announced the deployment of 1500 further troop trainers to Iraq, doubling its number, and at Apec he asked Mr Abbott for Australia to increase its commitment beyond the 200 special forces.

The primary objective for New Zealand at Apec was to see some urgency injected into the TPP talks and to keep leaders aiming for a high quality deal.

There was no fist-pumping moment expected for Mr Obama or Mr Key, no breakthrough, and none happened.

But there is an acceptance by those dragging their feet, including Japan, that unless the leaders settle on a good enough deal to get Congress support, TPP will wither in a little over six months.

That has focused not only the foot draggers but also New Zealand, which has relented - Mr Key is now talking about special deals for some countries.

In essence, that is New Zealand flagging away a gold standard comprehensive deal that applies to all products. The question now, if TPP survives, is whether it will be a silver or bronze deal.