New Zealand may host signing of TPP deal

  • 18/11/2015

By Sarah Robson

It's likely the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal will be formally signed in New Zealand.

The leaders of the 12 countries involved in the TPP were able to sit down together in Manila on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

The meeting, hosted by US President Barack Obama, was the first time the leaders have been in one room since the agreement was concluded in Atlanta last month, following five years of tough negotiations.

"We were able to complete the negotiations thanks to the commitment of the leaders here," Mr Obama said.

"TPP is at the heart of our shared vision for the future of this dynamic region."

The TPP countries account for almost 40 percent of the world's GDP and a third of global trade.

Mr Obama called it the "highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded", but acknowledged the negotiations were challenging.

"This is not easy to do, the politics of any trade agreement are difficult," he said.

Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser were among those around the table.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was seated next to Mr Obama.

After the meeting, Mr Key told reporters New Zealand has offered to host the formal TPP signing ceremony, which is likely to take place in the first half of 2016.

"There's quite a desire from countries to come to New Zealand," he said.

The details are still to be confirmed, but it would involve the trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries.

The discussion amongst leaders at today's meeting was focused on what steps need to now be taken to bring the TPP into effect as quickly as possible.

In New Zealand, once the agreement is signed, it will be scrutinised by a select committee. Legislation required to implement the TPP will go through Parliament in the usual way.

The leaders also talked about the process for allowing other countries to join the TPP.