McClay talks trade deals with Vietnam
Trade Minister Todd McClay is headed to Vietnam to discuss the remnants of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership and the prospect of an alternative agreement.
Mr McClay on Sunday departs for talks with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh - and he says the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreements are top of the agenda.
"The Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world and this presents a huge number of opportunities for our farmers, growers, exporters and our wider economy," Mr McClay said.
The member nations of the TPP - including Vietnam and New Zealand - have been trying to salvage the deal after it was put on ice when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement days after taking office.
Vietnam is believed to have turned its attention towards other countries in the region since the US withdrawal.
It will also host the APEC trade ministers' meeting later this month, with international media tipping the future of the TPP may be decided in meetings on its sidelines.
The 10-member RCEP - which includes the likes of India, China and Korea, but excludes the US - has long been touted as a possible alternative way forward to regional trade talks.
As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, Vietnam has become significant trade partner for New Zealand since the 2009 signing of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
About $516 million of New Zealand exports - mainly dairy, fruit and wool - went there in 2016 and two-way trade has tripled to more than $1 billion.