Negotiating mega-regional trade deals is hard going but there are few other attractive trade diplomacy options now that the WTO is in a negotiating coma. This is particularly true for small, open, trade-dependent economies like New Zealand. Too small to lead negotiations, too open to have many horses to trade during negotiations, demanding of high standards, and able to be jettisoned without too much effect.
The long and winding road that has led us to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (the tongue twisting CPTPP) is testament to this reality. However, if the CPTPP does come into force, it will be the first preferential trade agreement reached by New Zealand that includes Japan (New Zealand’s 5th largest trading partner) and Canada (14th largest trade partner). CPTPP would also be an upgrade on existing trade agreements that include Singapore (6th largest), Malaysia (10th largest) and Vietnam (16th largest).