Donald Trump's incoming Secretary of State does not oppose TPP

Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing.
Rex Tillerson, who will likely be the next US secretary of state, does not oppose the TPP. (Getty)

Rex Tillerson, the man US President-elect Donald Trump wants to be his Secretary of State has given the much maligned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a lifeline.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing on Thursday morning, the former CEO of oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil said, "I do not oppose TPP."

Mr Trump has vowed to rip up the TPP during his first days in office.

So does this mean the TPP is not dead, and perhaps good news for New Zealand exporters?

The trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries is certainly on life-support, but Mr Tillerson's views show a marked difference on some foreign policies between himself and Mr Trump.

While Mr Tillerson claimed to not oppose TPP, he also said the negotiated trade deal agreement may not serve all US interests.

The Texan multimillionaire also claimed to support a carbon tax, but reiterated the tax had to be revenue neutral - and not a revenue raiser.

Should he become Secretary of State, Mr Tillerson won't be able to implement anything without his President's approval, but his own history suggests the pair should get along.

Mr Tillerson has massive business interests in Russia, and has met President Vladimir Putin on several occasions. The pair reportedly have "good relations".

During his confirmation hearing, the 64-year-old was grilled repeatedly on his connections to Russia, and that country's alleged hacking during the 2016 US election.

The 64-year-old told the hearing it is a "fair assumption" that Mr Putin was behind the US election hacks.