New Zealand may be chairing the most powerful council in the world this week at the United Nations but in reality we're a minnow swimming with a pod of five whales who can, with a flick off their tails, send us flying on to the beach where we we'll be left gulping for air.

But that hasn't stopped John Key from talking tough about his beloved Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, warning the United States that if they can't get it passed by Congress by the end of the year someone else will come to the table and take their place.

The fact that, if you listen to Key, it's being driven not by the State Department but by the military brass in the Pentagon, shows it's as much about power and influence in this part of the world than it is about trade.

To reinforce that, you'll remember Vice President Joe Biden sounded like a cracked record when he was here a couple of months ago, impressing on us the United States is a Pacific power, it's not going anywhere.


The bogeyman in all of this is of course China which if the US can't get it together, will more than likely try to get to the trade table which of course will be of no benefit to this country given that we've already got a trade agreement with them.

Even though the TPPA was started by the Labour Government, this for Key has become something of a personal crusade, particularly since the current Labour lot have turned their backs on it.

The reality is John Key can jawbone and flex his muscles as much as he likes, but the American killer whale is a law unto itself, just like its four cohorts, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France are, which is what makes the UN monolithic with the power vested in a few and not the vast majority.

This Government likes to champion free trade but it hasn't been that good at pulling it off.

Former Trade Minister Tim Groser, whose now on the Washington cocktail circuit, told us seven years ago the ink was drying on the Labour initiated FTA with the Gulf States, the deal had been done - we're still waiting.

John Key inherited the lucrative China deal which was signed a month before he came to office. He now seems downbeat about the prospect of it being successfully reviewed, saying in New York, the Chinese know what they have to give, but they now want to know what they get in return.

And whatever happened to Key's assurance in April that we'd be shipping chilled meat into China within two months? We're still waiting.