A free trade agreement involving New Zealand and the United States is a step closer, following a speech by US president Barack Obama before heading to the APEC meeting in Singapore.
The US president said his government was committed to a trans-Pacific trade partnership with with the goal of shaping a regional agreement with broad-based membership and high standards, something Prime Minister John Key says effectively means New Zealand would have a free trade deal with the US.
Key says the American commitment on trade liberalisation was what the leaders have been waiting for.
He says it involves the world's largest economy, and the US is a big destination for the country's agricultural exports, worth billions and billions of dollars.
The American position was spelt out in Tokyo by President Obama who arrives in Singapore on Sunday.
A similar effort in 2006 was seen as a possible stepping stone for a wider Asia-Pacific free trade area. But it stalled because of a lack of US commitment.
Obama's commitment is also welcomed by the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"We are convinced that President Obama has made the right decision," says chamber chief executive Charles Finny.
"Being part of a high standard broad-based FTA linking the US with Latin America, Asia and Australia and New Zealand sends a strong and positive signal about the US commitment to both Asia and free trade."
Meanwhile, the photograph of leaders in traditional shirts has had to be cancelled due to President Obama arriving late.
His trip was cut short because he attended a commemoration ceremony for soldiers killed by a gunman at Fort Hood in Texas.