Talks to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact have effectively collapsed after Canada pulled out.
The talks have been postponed indefinitely.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the surprise announcement in Vietnam on Friday night, revealing Canada had not shown up for the talks between the remaining 11 nations in the TPP.
“It is true that Canada did not attend that meeting and those talks have now been postponed. We have no update on when they are likely to convene,” she said.
New Zealand had made good progress on contentious investor-state disputes resolution clauses and preserving market access, she said.
An earlier issue over wording, thought to involve Vietnam, has been resolved.
Ardern said Canada had withdrawn at this point.
“We walked into a meeting and they were the only one absent.”
Discussions would not continue without Canada, she said.
Ardern said she could not give a clear indication of Canada’s final position because they were not at the table to explain it.
She could not say whether the postponement was for days or weeks or longer and could not say which part of the pact Canada had issues with.
Ardern has a one-on-one meeting scheduled with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the East Asia Summit in Manila, in the Philippines, starting on Sunday, and would take that option up.
She was also set to meet him at an Apec dinner later on Friday, and on Saturday in Vietnam.
It’s understood Canada, the second largest economy in the TPP since the United States withdrew, had been in bilateral talks with Japan on role difference before Trudeau’s no show at the meeting.
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said that on Thursday night it had appeared all Canada’s issues had been resolved to its satisfaction.
“That seemed to change today.”
Parker said other countries in the room, including Australia, were surprised by Canada’s non-appearance.
Asked if TPP was now finished and had lost momentum, Ardern said that would be guess work.
“It’s difficult to say what position Canada will take from here. It’s a significantly different deal without Canada in it.”
She said New Zealand had gone into the talks to be constructive and had made some good gain and that it would be disappointing for New Zealand exporters.
“But we can’t control the decisions of other countries. No-one at that table could.”