Australia is working to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal but without the United States after President Donald Trump ditched the huge trade pact days after moving into the White House.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that his government is also considering welcoming China into the trade agreement.

The original pact covered the US and 11 countries in the Pacific Rim, which jointly account for 40% of the world economy.

Trump signed an executive order on 23 January withdrawing the US from the TPP after campaigning against the deal, saying that it did not serve the nation's best interest.

Turnbull is looking at a "TPP 12 minus one" deal. The government is in "active discussions" with other signatories including Japan, New Zealand and Singapore on how to salvage the agreement following the pullout of the US.

"It is possible that US policy could change over time on this, as it has done on other trade deals," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra. He noted that Rex Tillerson, the nominee for US secretary of state, and many Republicans in the US support the TPP.

"There is also the opportunity for the TPP to proceed without the United States. Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP," he added.

AFP noted that the TPP — the biggest trade deal in history — was aimed at countering China's rising economic influence. Although it was signed in 2016, it has not yet come into operation.

Australia's Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo, admitted that Australia, Canada, Mexico and others had pushed for a pact without the US at a World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Davos.

"There would be scope, if we were able to reformulate it to be a TPP 12 minus one, for countries like Indonesia or China or indeed other countries to consider joining," Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This is very much a live option and we are pursuing it and it will be the focus of conversations for some time to come," he added.