New Zealand on Thursday became the second nation after Japan to ratify a Pacific trade deal that will need changes to proceed after the United States pulled out.
Trade Minister Todd McClay said New Zealand is exploring alternatives for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that ratifying the deal helps keep its options open.
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 12-nation deal immediately after taking office in January after campaigning against it.
In its current form, the Pacific rim deal requires U.S. participation before it can go into effect. That means the remaining countries would need to change the rules for any deal to go ahead, and it would be significantly smaller without the involvement of the world's largest economy.
McClay said New Zealand expects other nations to ratify the agreement in the coming months.
"Following the U.S. withdrawal from TPP, our export sector and business community sent a clear message to find a way forward for this valuable agreement and that's what we have been working hard to do," he said in a statement.
New Zealand's ratification comes ahead of a trip by Prime Minister Bill English next week to Japan, where he will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. McClay later this month is scheduled to co-chair a meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership ministers in Vietnam.
New Zealand is a strong proponent of free trade. The country relies on exports of dairy products and other farm commodities to help power its economy.