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Obama will 'move smartly' on free-trade deal - specialist

Published: 3:37PM Sunday November 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

The re-election of United States President Barack Obama could mean the signing of a free-trade deal with the US, an Asia specialist said today.

Speaking on TV ONE's Q+A programme, Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington specialist Mike Green said he was "very confident" the impact of the US presidential election on New Zealand would see a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal signed within the next four years.

"I don't think it will be finished this year, which is the goal," he added, "because I think Japan will start to come in and it will be worth accommodating Japan, that's a huge economy.

"And I think countries like Vietnam and so forth are going to have some political difficulties, but in the next four years yes.

"I think the President knows that this is, in many ways, the meat that would make the pivot or rebalance."

He said he believed the Obama administration would "move smartly" on TPP, because the "concept of focussing on Asia has strong bipartisan support" in the US.

Green said New Zealand's role in the Asia-Pacific region was more important now than 10 or 20 years ago, describing the country as a "big player" for its size.

"There's going to be a lot of expectations and a lot of challenges frankly for a New Zealand government to be playing with us - because we have a huge government, a huge military and a huge aids system - on all of these different issues, but I think it's a good thing," he said.

In only a couple of weeks time around 500 representatives from all of the countries involved in the free-trade deal will descend on Auckland to complete the latest round of negotiations.

New Zealand ambassador to the US Mike Moore, added he was "hopeful" the highly-anticipated TPP free-trade deal would be signed by the end of 2013.

"This is not easy for anyone, there are certain sensitive products that America has to face, issues like sugar that's not important to us but it is to our friends in Australia, and we all have to work this through," the former New Zealand Prime Minister said.

"And we're hopeful that we can tie the negotiation up by the end of next year."

He added: "Great national interests do not change with a change of government, at either end."

Green said although New Zealand and the US had some differing interests, the countries were the same on issues such as human and property rights.