Last week, China officially sought to join the 11 member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which came into effect in late 2019:
Beijing seeks to join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao presented China’s application to New Zealand counterpart Damien O’Connor and discussed the upcoming process by telephone. Documents were submitted to support the application.
New Zealand acts as the depositary for the CPTPP, the government that handles various administrative tasks for the pact, such as requests to join.
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In a speech to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit via video in November 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China “will favorably consider” joining the CPTPP.
However, Australia has indicated that it will block China’s admission:
Australia has put China on notice it will oppose Beijing’s bid to join one of the world’s biggest trading pacts until it calls off trade strikes against Australian exports and resumes minister-to-minister communications with the Morrison government…
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said China could not join the grouping until it had convinced members of its “track record of compliance” with existing trade agreements and World Trade Organisation commitments, a process that would require Beijing to resume high-level dialogue with Australia.
Australia has lodged disputes against China in the WTO on restrictions on exports of barley and wine imposed by Beijing as relations between the two countries deteriorated.
“CPTPP parties would also want to be confident that an accession candidate would fully implement its commitments under the Agreement in good faith,” Mr Tehan told The Weekend Australian.
Good to see. Over the past 18 months, we have witnessed China ban a range of imports from Australia, in contravention of the free-trade agreement (ChAFTA) that the two nations signed in 2015.
Through its actions, China has demonstrated unequivocally that it does not play fair and cannot be trusted on trade.
Allowing China into CPTPP would entrench its position as an economic partner with Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea. In turn, it could allow China to shape the region’s trade rules and wedge Australia’s vital strategic relationship with the US.
Australia should instead encourage US President Joe Biden into joining the CPTPP, which the US withdrew from under President Donald Trump.