Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer earlier said Trump believed bilateral deals were preferable, as it gave the US more power and flexibility.
It does. And a bilateral US-NZ agreement would be far inferior to TPP, for us.
The US pushed for a lot of stuff in the TPP that would have been nasty for us, such as huge intellectual property law changes that would have harmed the Internet. Because there were 12 countries involved, NZ managed to help build a coalition among the 11 other countries to oppose these sections, and eventually the US backed down. The NZ negotiators did a great job in that section, and many others.
In a bilateral negotiation, NZ would be in a far far weaker position. If the US said the price of tariff reduction is make these changes to IP laws, then we either have to agree, or no deal.
So I hold no real hope for a meaningful bilateral FTA with the US. TPP was as good as it could get for us, and that is basically dead.
Our focus should move to other economies – maybe using TPP as a template, but maybe not. There was a fair bit in TPP that was still there to please the US. If they are not going to be part of it, why keep them in?