Jacinda Ardern says she's "disappointed" there was no joint statement from APEC nations after an acrimonious summit on the weekend.
The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on the role of the World Trade Organisation, which governs international trade, officials said.
A statement was to be issued instead by the meeting's chair, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
"The entire world is worried" about tensions between China and the US, O'Neill told a mob of reporters that surrounded him after he confirmed there was no communique from leaders.
It was the first time leaders had failed to agree on a declaration in 29 years of the Pacific Rim summits that involve countries representing 60 percent of the world economy.
Speaking to media today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wanted to focus on the positives coming from the summit.
"I think it's fair to say that it was disappointing that we were unable to have a communique issued at the conclusion of the APEC meeting," Ms Ardern said.
"There is an expectation that there will be a statement from the chair issued at some point.
"However, there was still consensus around a substantial number of areas and agreement around APEC about some quite significant issues," she said.
Draft versions of the communique seen by The Associated Press showed the US wanted strong language against unfair trade practices that it accuses China of.
China, meanwhile, wanted a reaffirmation of opposition to protectionism and unilateralism that it says the US is engaging in.
The US has imposed additional tariffs of $US250 billion on Chinese goods this year and Beijing has retaliated with its own tariffs on American exports.