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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 7): ASEAN countries will benefit from China joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said Nation-Building Institute (Thailand) chairman Prof Dr Kriengsak Chareonwongsak.
The CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) involving 11 countries around the Pacific Rim, namely Mexico, Canada, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Vietnam.
On Sept 16, 2021, China formally submitted a request to accede to the CPTPP, which was very much welcomed by Malaysia.
“When China is in both the CPTPP and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), we (ASEAN) can leverage both blocks, and eventually, we can merge.
“China is a big player, the more they join in (trade pacts), it would cause the competitive advantage paradigm to shift in every block,” he said during an online panelist discussion at the 2021 ASEAN Leadership & Partnership Forum today.
The forum, themed “Rebuilding ASEAN Towards Sustainable Recovery”, was co-organised by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific and Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur.
Chareonwongsak also said ASEAN will be able to gain strength in a comparative advantage with China in both blocks.
“However, if we can pull the United States in (CPTPP) at the same time, it will be revolutionary,” he said.
Initial trade negotiations for what was then simply the Trans-Pacific Partnership went on for five years, from March 2010 until Oct 5, 2015.
The US was party to the talks, however, the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016 led to the country’s withdrawal from the agreement before its ratification.
The remaining 11 nations amended the text of the agreement and the renamed CPTPP was signed in March 2018.
Malaysia is currently on track in ratifying the CPTPP, pending a detailed and clear mandate from the cabinet, Bernama quoted the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) as saying recently.
Malaysia has an FTA with China via the ASEAN-China FTA.