TOKYO -- Although New Zealand's next prime minister is looking to renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the country's special agricultural trade envoy, Mike Petersen, told The Nikkei during a recent trip to Japan that he was "entirely confident" New Zealand will remain part of the trade deal.
Petersen's post was created in 2013 to represent New Zealand's agricultural interests during trade negotiations. He will continue advising trade policy under the government
of Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern.
Since the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP, the deal's 11 remaining members have been negotiating to put the so-called TPP 11 into effect. Ardern's push for a renegotiation has cast doubt on the idea, leading some in the Japanese government to call for dropping New Zealand and pursuing a 10-country deal instead.
Petersen said he was "encouraged" that Ardern felt no need to withdraw from the TPP. He was "entirely confident" that the incoming Labour Party-led government will sign and execute the trade deal, and expected "good engagement" at various levels of government.
The envoy said the timing of the change in government was unfortunate. Still, he argued that the TPP would bring great benefits for New Zealand from a business perspective, and that the prime minister-elect will be getting briefed on the latest updates on the negotiations.
The World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Buenos Aires in December will be "very important" for continued progress, Petersen said. Although he admitted that reaching an agreement on market access will be difficult, he pointed to the gains already made on trade facilitation and export subsidies. He was counting on an agreement regarding fishing subsidies as well.
New Zealand is also one of the 16 negotiating members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Although Japan is pushing for the creation of a substantive, high-quality deal, China and others are more interested in signing a pact quickly. Petersen said he wanted a quality deal instead of rushing into just any agreement.