Some people say that gaining access to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will be a major test for China, but vice versa, accepting China will also be a significant test for the CPTPP as to whether the free trade treaty could cover a colossal consumption market.
China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is prompting domestic and international discussion. People are asking questions about Beijing’s motivations, the obstacles China must overcome before ascension and the entry requirements it must meet to gain membership.
China’s bid for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a multifaceted move. An overlooked aspect of it is the fact that the CPTPP is the first major free trade agreement established on a trans-Pacific scale and that three of its four members on the eastern side of the Pacific happen to be Latin American countries.
China’s decision to formally seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the world’s most important Asian trade deal, presents the U.S. with an enormous set of economic and diplomatic challenges. China joining CPTPP would deal a significant blow to U.S. economic statecraft and further strengthen Chinese leadership in the Indo-Pacific. Taiwan’s recent announcement that it also wants to join CPTPP further complicates the picture.
On September 16, China formally submitted a request to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement. This was not surprising news, but it was still big news. The CPTPP is the survivor to the American exit from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the behest of former U.S. President Donald Trump. The reconfigured trade grouping retained the ambitious targets for tariff elimination and high standards on trade and investment liberalization. From its inception, the TPP project has anticipated welcoming new members both to increase its economic heft and to disseminate quality rules for economic integration. Acceptance of the CPTPP’s extant disciplines is required of all prospective members.
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times
China’s recent application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has received a negative response from the US, which had originally pushed the free trade treaty as a way to exclude China during the Obama era before abruptly withdrawing from the deal in the early days of the Trump era.
CPTPP Photo: VCG
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) of Malaysia said it is looking forward to welcome China in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), three days after Beijing announced its official application to the regional pact.
China has applied to join the 11 member Asia Pacific trade pact that includes Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore, all of whom have a veto on new membership.
Australia and other members can help lock China into new rules and reforms that entrench the market and constrain behaviour. China’s trade coercion against Australia should be resolved as part of the accession process, not used to stymie the strategic opportunity.
China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) just hours after announcement of the new tripartite AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) security partnership may – or may not – have been coincidental. Regardless, both events illustrate the rapidly shifting geostrategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region.
AUKUS is a momentous agreement – for all three parties.