Dairy co-operative Fonterra on Friday welcomed news of a decision by the United States to begin trade talks to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
US trade officials on Tuesday announced that they will begin negotiations with TPP members New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei.
The negotiations will also include Australia and Peru, while Vietnam will observe the first three rounds of negotiations.
The US is New Zealand's second largest dairy export market after China. Last year, Fonterra says New Zealand exported 153,000 tonnes of dairy goods to the US, mostly casein, caseinate, milk protein concentrate and cheese.
These exports were worth $1.3 billion.
Fonterra's senior trade consultant Ken Geard says the negotiations have the potential to significantly open up trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
"TPP will be a major breakthrough in international trade policy if negotiations are successful," he says.
Negotiations will begin on March 15 in Australia.