Key lobbies for TPP dairy deal

  • 29/07/2015
John Key (Simon Wong/3 News)
John Key (Simon Wong/3 News)

By Peter Wilson, Political Writer

John Key is gathering international support for a dairy deal as Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks edge towards agreement.

Dairy products represent 20 percent of New Zealand's exports and open access to the 11 other TPP countries would be a huge gain.

The Prime Minister says he's making calls around the world.

"We're getting more support from some of the other countries," he told reporters today.

"I'm in the process of making phone calls to leaders and others to encourage them to see it our way – we're presenting the strongest case we possibly can."

Access for agricultural products is one of the most contentious issues at the TPP negotiations.

New Zealand is striving to break down the tariff barriers other countries have erected to protect their farmers.

After five years of negotiations, a final agreement is being thrashed out in Hawaii this week.

Another difficult issue that has to be resolved is patent protection for the drugs produced by the big US companies.

Cheap generic drugs such as those purchased by Pharmac can't be produced until patents expire and the US is reported to be pushing for protection to be extended to 12 years.

The Australian government has said it won't accept that, and doesn't see why it should go beyond five years.

Mr Key says the government has "pretty strong views" about the US attitude and New Zealand opposes a lengthy extension.

He gave an assurance yesterday that any cost increase would be met by the government and patients wouldn't pay more than the current $5 prescription fee.

He says it will be a "tiny" increase compared with the economic benefits of having a free trade agreement with the US and other big economies.

The countries negotiating the TPP agreement are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.