Trade Minister David Parker is in Santiago for the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership and said it was a "fair deal for New Zealand".
Parker also revealed New Zealand had signed "side letters" with five countries to exclude the use of the controversial compulsory investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions – measures which allow corporates to sue governments for law changes and regulations that impacted on their business under the agreement.
As well as Australia, those countries are Brunei, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.
"I'm pleased we have been able to make so much progress in just a few months. We haven't been able to get every country on board, but signing letters with this many CPTPP partners is a real achievement," Parker said.
While Canada and Chile had not agreed for full exclusion of ISDS, they and New Zealand had signed a joint declaration to use investor-state dispute settlement responsibly.
Parker said that was an acknowledgement of public concerns about ISDS.
"Along with Canada and Chile, we have pledged to work together to promote transparency," he said.
Parker said it was good to see international acknowledgement of the need for trade that worked for everyone.
"Our countries are committed to making sure the benefits of trade and investment are broadly shared and we will be working together to achieve this."
The declaration affirmed the right of each country to regulate to achieve legitimate public policy objectives, in such areas as health, safety and the environment.
It also included commitments to work together through trade policies on sustainable development, climate action, gender equality, indigenous rights and minimum work standards.
Parker said the CPTPP brought together 11 countries whose combined economies made up 13.5 per cent of the world's GDP – worth $US10 trillion.
"It gives our exporters new opportunities in key markets like Japan, it preserves the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi, and it protects the Government's right to regulate in the public interest."
The signing of the agreement coincides with US President Donald Trump's plans to sign off on an increase in tariffs on steel and aluminium today – a step many fear will lead to retaliatory tariffs and increased protectionism. Trump had pulled the US out of the TPP soon after becoming President.
"We recognise that trade can be a force for good around the world, for example by raising environmental and labour standards, or enforcing commitments to reform fisheries subsidies," Parker said.
"We expect CPTPP to make a meaningful contribution to progressive and inclusive trade in the future. And together with Canada and Chile we intend to ensure the promise of CPTPP is delivered on for workers, families, farmers, businesses and consumers."
The agreement will enter into force after it has been ratified by six countries.
The 11 countries involved are New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The Green Party do not support the CPTPP so Labour requires the National Party's support to pass any CPTPP related legislation – support National has said it will give.
The TPP has been controversial in New Zealand and Labour had originally opposed it, but has claimed it had made significant changes which allowed it to change that stance. That included the suspension of most ISDS clauses after the US withdrawal and working out a way to ensure it could go ahead with its ban on foreign buyers of New Zealand land.
The signing of the CPTPP was welcomed by Horticulture NZ and Zespri, which said the better conditions for access into the key market of Japan would make a significant difference.
Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, was in Chile for the signing and said it was a timely agreement. "As it stands, the deal's worth to New Zealand is a rise of between $1.2 and $4 billion in GDP."
It would allow for preferential access to Japan for the first time – putting New Zealand on a level footing with fellow CPTPP countries Chile and Australia which had the advantage when it came to tariffs on fruit such as apples and kiwifruit.
Zespri chief executive Don Mathieson said New Zealand kiwifruit growers paid more than $26 million in tariffs in Japan over the last season and sales volumes were expected to grow by about 25 per cent over the next five years.
"This tariff relief will means savings for our growers and benefits for Japanese consumers by supporting our competitiveness against other fruit in market."
The other TPP countries were already either tariff-free on kiwifruit, had trade agreements with New Zealand or did not import kiwifruit.
" The reality is that New Zealand's economy is underpinned by exports and agreements like this are critical to securing our ongoing access and competitiveness around the world."
Catherine Beard, the Executive Director of ExportNZ, referred to Trump's moves on tariffs, saying the CPTPP was the 'exemplar' of countries working together on trade at a time of protectionist moves and threats of global trade wars.
One thing the US actions have done is get the rest the world to focus on the benefits of trade, and the CPTPP is a concrete example of everyone moving forward together."
She said the benefits in New Zealand would felt in terms of jobs