China applies to join the CPTPP before the ‘entry door’ gets narrower

China applied to join the CPTPP before the entrance was narrower - Photo 1.

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao – Photo: REUTERS

On September 16, China announced that the country’s commerce minister, Vuong Van Dao, had officially submitted an application to join the CPTPP to New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor. The two ministers also “discussed the next steps of China’s accession application”.

If it joins, Beijing will be the largest economy in the CPTPP bloc. This will also be an important step for China to increase its economic influence after signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last year.

The CPTPP, signed by 11 countries in 2018, includes Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

This agreement was originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was seen as an economic counterweight to China’s influence in the region.

The US withdrew from this agreement in 2017 under former US president Donald Trump. Later, many analysts and former US officials called on Washington to step back to prevent Beijing from influencing global trade regulations. But that call has not been answered.

Now China has moved despite the UK’s application to join a few months later and this could be a problem for CPTPP members.

“China wants to start negotiations before the UK joins the agreement because the risk of their accession being vetoed is higher after the UK joins. The only party that has expressed a welcome welcome to China is Japan, and the other parties are not interested. Other Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, may not be satisfied with China’s participation.” South China Morning Post Quoting expert Sourabh Gupta from the Institute of US-China Studies in Washington.

“China wants to join before the barricade is raised higher. Also, it’s also a good way to tease the US,” Gupta added.

China applies to join the CPTPP before the entrance is narrower - Photo 2.

Chinese workers work in a factory in Zhejiang province – Photo: REUTERS

Japan is currently the chair of the decision-making body of the CPTPP, while New Zealand is responsible for receiving applications for accession.

Once the application is approved, a team will be formed for evaluation. Applicants for accession must comply with the provisions of the CPTPP and initiate tax negotiations on a bilateral basis with the members of the bloc.

In June 2021, the UK said the review process with the country had begun.

“Being a member (of the CPTPP) is a huge opportunity for the UK. It will help shift our economic focus from Europe to the world’s fastest growing regions, expanding our access to the world’s fastest growing regions. huge consumer market in the Asia-Pacific,” said then-British trade minister Liz Truss.

When asked about China’s application to join the CPTPP on September 16, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration of President Joe Biden would not return to the CPTPP. Instead, the United States will push for other options, including strengthening economic ties in the Indo-Pacific.

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