Key, Obama to make TPP push
Key meets Obama as they arrive for the gala dinner together with other head of states in Phnom Penh (Reuters)
By Laura McQuillan
Prime Minister John Key will team up with United States President Barack Obama in Cambodia on Tuesday morning in a push to seal a major trade deal with Asian leaders.
The pair are attending the East Asia Summit alongside government heads from Russia, Australia, China, Cambodia and Japan, and many attendees will take part in a 90-minute meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which is Mr Key's prime focus during the visit.
The meeting, which is taking place without non-Asian member countries - Mexico, Canada, Chile and Peru - will see Mr Obama launch discussions with the United States' vision for the deal, with intellectual property regulation a major sticking point.
Mr Key will raise New Zealand's key issue in the deal - agriculture exports - which faces strong opposition from Japan, amid its farmers' vocal concerns over dropping protectionism.
Mr Key remains hopeful TPP negotiations can be concluded in 2013, with a fifteenth round of talks set to take place in New Zealand next month.
"These things are always complex - there's a lot of partners, there's a lot of moving parts and it will take some political goodwill on the part of all of the partners, but it's an exciting opportunity and one that we should push hard," he said.
Mr Key will also meet the leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations, as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and India, later on Tuesday to launch a second separate trade concept, the Regional Comprehension Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The proposed agreement could be even bigger than the TPP, which has an estimated $2 billion benefit for New Zealand.
Mr Key is in good spirits about the new deal after a positive meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Xiabao on Monday night.
"It's not often that you sit down with a leader of a country who has 1.4 billion citizens and he says to you 'sell us more goods'," Mr Key said.
"(He is) actively encouraging us to sell more dairy products, more wood products, educate more Chinese students."
The summit wraps up on Tuesday afternoon.