New Zealand, APEC chair, says will not 'prejudge' China's bid to TPP – The Mainichi – The Mainichi

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China immigration inspection officers in protective suits walk near a container ship at a port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province on Nov. 7, 2021. (Chinatopix via AP)

SYDNEY (Kyodo) — New Zealand’s Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said Wednesday the country will not “prejudge” China in its bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, a day after a ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which the island nation chaired.

Responding to a question at a press conference following the virtual meeting of trade and foreign ministers from APEC economies, O’Connor said that China’s application to join the TPP would be judged indiscriminately alongside fellow applicants Britain and Taiwan.

“We’re not going to prejudge what China might have to change or do” to join the TPP, formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, said O’Connor, in reference to accusations leveled against China of its alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and anti-dumping duties on products from Australia, New Zealand’s neighbor.

“We, as members of CPTPP, have always been open to accession by applicants. I think we’ve all welcomed the applications by U.K., by China and by Chinese Taipei,” he said. “It’s up to the applicant economies to reach the standards that we have set.”

The comments came after the ministers from the 21 Pacific Rim economies gathered online Monday and Tuesday, as part of a weeklong series of conferences leading up to the APEC leaders’ summit on Friday.

At the press conference, O’Connor also said the member economies reiterated APEC’s strong stance against “vaccine nationalism,” adding “We all know that none of us are safe until we are all safe,” referring to equitable access to affordable vaccines.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the ministers made a pledge that APEC members will strive for inclusive and sustainable recovery from the global pandemic and strongly support global climate commitments.

The pledge included accelerated efforts to rationalize and phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption,” a goal first agreed to by APEC leaders in 2010.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.