Wellington: US Secretary of State John Kerry refused to call last rites on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Saturday, expressing hope President-elect Donald Trump will drop his opposition to the contentious free trade deal.
The 12-nation TPP became a hot-button issue during the US election campaign, with critics including Trump saying it would cost American jobs.
Kerry said international trade was critical to US interests and the TPP could help grow the economy.
"I think as people examine it and begin to get beyond the campaign and begin to dig into it, my hope is it can summon the support that it needs," he told reporters during a trip to New Zealand.
The TPP includes a dozen Asia-Pacific nations that together account for 40 per cent of the global economy.
They are the United States, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
It has been signed but is yet to be ratified by lawmakers in the US.
Kerry said he and President Barack Obama remained "deeply committed" to the deal but would not try to push it through in the so-called "lame duck" legislative session before Trump takes over.
"The fact that it may not be taken up in the lame duck session isn't indicative of where the country may go, that's
for sure," he said.
"I believe there'll be a robust debate about it and there's enough benefit in it for everybody that ultimately people will come to see this as a different kind of agreement."
Kerry also denied that the TPP was intended to create an economic bulwark against China's rise in the Asia-Pacific.
"It's not about China," he said. "The United States welcomes the peaceful rise of a great nation like China, we've said that directly to President Xi (Jinping).
"We're not looking for competition or conflict, we're looking for cooperation."