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China has filed an application to join the Comprehensive Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Reuters reported.
The report added that in a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said their Minister of Commerce Wang Wentoa sent a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister Damien O’Connor on China’s application to join the trade pact on Sep. 16.
Chinese state-controlled news agency Global Times touted it as a move to pile “pressure” on the U.S. at a time when it has “stayed away from rejoining” the trade agreement, adding that this decision aims to “cements China’s leadership role in global trade”.
Eleven countries signed the CPTPP in 2018, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that the CPTPP pact includes agreements on market access, labour movement, and government procurement.
TPP initially to counter China’s influence
The CPTPP was originally derived from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed in 2016. A pact that excluded China, it was seen as an economic agreement to counter the country’s influence in the region.
The trade agreement was also seen as a hallmark pact of former U.S. President Barrack Obama as the administration said it would shift its attention to Asia.
However, his successor, Donald Trump, withdrew the U.S. from the agreement when he took office in 2017.
Following the U.S.’ withdrawal from the TPP, countries from the original pact banded together in 2018 and ratified a new agreement, the CPTPP, without the U.S.
The CPTPP mainly differed from the TPP in that the new agreement removed certain provisions regarding intellectual property.
There are no indications at the moment whether the current Biden administration would join the CPTPP, according to AP.
The UK and Thailand have also shown signs of interest in joining the CPTPP.
Singapore has welcomed China to join CPTPP
Singapore has been of the view that China’s participation in the CPTPP would be beneficial to the countries involved, as well as the region, with PM Lee Hsien Loong previously saying in 2018 that the city-state welcomes China to join the CPTPP when it’s “ready”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has also reiterated Singapore’s position on this during his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi’s working visit to Singapore from Sep. 13 to 14.
Vivian noted that China should engage in multilateral efforts, such as joining the CPTPP, as it would lead to greater integration of the global economy, which would bring about “bright prospects for the future”.
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