Trade representatives from more than a dozen countries have flown into Australia to conduct highly secretive negotiations on a mega deal that will sideline the United States amid the ongoing economic fall-out from the US-China trade war.
All 10 ASEAN member states and their partners; China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, will be locked in negotiations in Melbourne from Friday over an EU-style trade deal known as the pan-Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP].
The 16 nations will be negotiating what Trade Minister Simon Birmingham calls “one of the most economically significant trade agreements in the world” after Prime Minister Scott Morrison used the G20 in Osaka to urge both the US and China to resolve their disputes to avoid global collateral damage.
Big own goal there for El Trumpo.
But how does this fit with yesterday’s declaration by ScoMo that China is an open trade cheat and the US has every right to be upset about it? Not very well. Though it must be noted that it also includes a swath of other formal US allies and India.
The RCEP pre-dates the trade war so it does not necessarily have to be seen as a rival to either it or the TPP.
We’ll have to wait for the text of the thing, if it is ever released.