With US President Donald Trump's decision not to ratify a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal and an unpredictable North Korea in the Asia-Pacific region the TPP now has more "relevance as a strategic agreement", according to Bill English.
Speaking with 1 NEWS Political Editor Corin Dann on TVNZ1's Q+A today, the Prime Minister said New Zealand has to make sure we "don't get distracted" by the topsy-turvy of US domestic politics since the election of Donald Trump as president.
"While the US politics is creating some uncertainty we want to get on with the job of working with like minded countries to achieve our trade objectives and making sure we don't get distracted," Mr English said.
Twelve countries, including New Zealand, signed up to the yet to be ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in 2016, but Donald Trump has this year pulled the US out.
With the US and its large economy out of the TPP framework the agreement has more strategic relevance to New Zealand, Mr English, who has been overseas meeting with Asian leaders, says.
"Where the US has pulled out that has created a situation where China has become a standard bearer for open trade, Japan has taken a leadership role which just five or six years ago you wouldn’t have imagined which respect to open trade and investment flows.
"So we (New Zealand) are taking our opportunity that goes with that.
Mr English says the TTP "has taken on a bit more relevance as a strategic agreement at a time when the US has pulled back, where China and Japan are taking leadership and where they're all feeling a bit threatened and destabilised with what's happening with North Korea".
"And we're finding other countries reacting to all that instability with tightening up their focus and probably being more interested in TPP."
On Wednesday the Prime Minister told 1 NEWS the question of whether a North Korean missile could reach New Zealand was asked of officials in the wake of threats of missile strikes against Australia by North Korea.
Concern in Japan is very high over the North Korean threat after a missile landed in the sea off Japan and Russia on May 14.
It is thought it was a new type of missile that was that can fly further than previous ones.
Mr English says while it wasn't a major investigation by officials they were asked what likelihood was there that if a missile could reach Australia one could get to New Zealand.
He says the answer is they can't.