Ardern puts TPP on the backburner, focus now on EU deal

  • 13/11/2017

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership now back in the negotiating phase Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to shift her focus to a trade deal with the European Union.

She's scheduled to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk in the Philippines this week where she's attending the East Asia Summit.

There's strong support in Germany and from a number of other parties for that agreement to proceed quickly, Ms Ardern said on Sunday night ahead of the first round of meetings on Monday.

"Of course it's about making sure our negotiators have the mandate to begin the negotiations, so we will absolutely be raising that and seeking as much priority as I can," she said.

"Certainly I would hope we are [close to a mandate] and I'll be advocating for it."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker indicated earlier this year after meetings with then Prime Minister Bill English that they hoped to have a deal within three years..

A deal with the UN traditionally takes five to 10 years to complete.

Ms Ardern also has meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China's Premier Li Keqiang, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte as well as attending the summit meeting itself.

Trade is also expected to be on the agenda with Mr Modi, with a focus on the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership which would give New Zealand greater market access into India.

"Also I'm going to continue to extend an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit New Zealand... I think it would be fantastic to have a visit from him particularly for our Indian community in New Zealand," she said.

The summit overall is expected to focus heavily on regional security and preventing extremism in the region.

The meeting with Mr Li is expected to cover the South China Sea but Ms Ardern does not anticipate raising the prospect of an extradition treaty with China.

"There are a number of other matters. We are for instance continuing to raise the use of the death penalty but actually at the moment most of the issues coming up are around regional security issues and North Korea," she said.

NZN