Key jokes about rebranding the TPP as the 'Trump-Pacific Partnership'
John Key has a novel idea for getting US President-elect on board with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a simple rename.
Speaking to the CEO Summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Peru, the Prime Minister joked it could be renamed the "Trump-Pacific Partnership".
Mr Key spoke candidly to the forum about the options for the TPP going forward, as Donald Trump has essentially told the world he's pulling the pin on the United States' involvement in the 12-nation free trade deal.
Mr Key basically laid down the law for Mr Trump, saying whether he comes on board or not, other countries are into free trade and he'll be left behind.
"One option is that the other 11 countries hold hands and after two-year ratification period we sign up to TPP in the form its currently in… in principle if the other 11 countries want to hold hands, then we can do that."
Protesters at the signing of the TPP in Auckland, February 2016 (Dan Satherley / Newshub.)
But he'd prefer to have the US on board, as one in every four consumer dollars worldwide is spent by an American household.
"The second option is somewhere along the line there is some cosmetic change to TPP that allows Donald Trump as President to say: 'Look it was a horrible deal before but because of these changes now it's a good one and I'll sign up to it.' A name change or something, something different."
And it's a big chunk of the deal missing if Mr Trump's arm can't be twisted. Mr Key revealed the Government has run the numbers, and we'd miss out on a third of the benefits of the deal if the mega-economy that is the US isn't part of it.
He won't have the opportunity to sell his rename to Mr Trump at APEC though - Barack Obama is there on behalf of the US.
Mr Obama called a leaders' meeting earlier today as a last-ditch effort to calm everyone's nerves and keep the deal alive. But to get them on board, Mr Key limited any modifications to cosmetic changes as renegotiating the deal would be too complex.
"Everybody knows there are controversial parts of TPP," he said.
US President-elect Donald Trump (Reuters)
Mr Key has had a busy morning of meetings with leaders - he met with Chile's President Michelle Bachelet and Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Earlier this week Peru suggested the TPP could forge ahead without the US, and include Russia.
While he won't have a formal meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Key will tomorrow attend the APEC leaders' retreat where the pair might meet.
That's set to be a bit of an awkward affair, with both Mr Obama and Mr Putin sharing a room.