China began serious work on Friday to push forward its bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, a day after applying to join the pact in a bid to increase its economic weight in the country. Asia-Pacific region.

China’s accession would have a significant impact on trade in the region, and its offer is aimed at countering measures the United States and other partners are pursuing to decouple from the Chinese economy. However, it remains uncertain whether China will be allowed to join the pact.

To join the agreement, officially known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, China will need the unanimous approval of the 11 member countries. One obstacle China faces is its strained ties with Australia, one of the TPP members.

The screenshot shows Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking at a two-day virtual climate summit that began on April 22, 2021. (Kyodo) == Kyodo

In June, China said it had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over Australia’s anti-dumping tariffs, apparently in retaliation against Canberra’s decision to file a WTO complaint over China’s anti-dumping duties on wine exports.

Australia signaled on Friday that it was unwilling to agree to the start of talks on a possible Chinese participation. The country’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement Friday that China should convince members that it has a “history of compliance” with its commitments under the WTO and existing trade agreements, reiterating once again the need for China to resume ministerial-level talks between the two nations.

The other members of the TPP are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Japan, one of the main TPP economies, said it will carefully analyze whether China is ready to qualify to join the free trade agreement.

“We need to thoroughly assess whether China is ready to abide by the strict TPP-11 rules,” Cabinet Secretary-General Katsunobu Kato said, adding that Tokyo “will consult with other members while following new approval procedures. members”.

The United States initially promoted the trade pact to counter China’s growing economic influence.

China’s bid comes as the administration of US President Joe Biden remains cautious about returning to the treaty, from which the United States withdrew in January 2017.

Following the request, a spokesperson for the US State Department said in a statement, “We expect China’s non-market trade practices and China’s use of economic coercion against other countries are taken into account “in a decision concerning Beijing’s membership.

If China adheres to the TPP, the gross domestic product of participating economies would amount to around 30% of global GDP, compared to more than 10% currently. It would also mark a new milestone for the world’s second-largest economy, similar to its accession to the WTO in 2001.

China’s bid to join the free trade bloc follows Britain’s request filed in February this year. Taiwan has also expressed interest in joining.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Damien O’Connor, New Zealand Minister of Trade and Exports, spoke by phone to discuss the necessary procedures, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

Compared to some advanced countries such as Japan, China lags behind in liberalizing market access while the Asian economic powerhouse also faces other obstacles, such as preferential treatment reforms for companies. public and public subsidies to meet the standards shared among the members of the TPP.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his country’s intention to seriously consider participating in the TPP when he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum summit in November last year.

In July, during an informal virtual meeting with APEC leaders, he called for “integration, not decoupling,” according to Chinese media.

Associated coverage:

China submits application to join TPP free trade agreement

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