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China calls for integrated Asia-Pacific
January 24, 2017, 3:06 pm

Xi has always viewed the TPP as exclusionary; none of the BRICS countries were members of the now defunct TPP [Xinhua]

China has responded to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by reiterating its commitment to economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

“China will forge ahead with the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) so as to add new impetus to regional and global economic development,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday.

On Monday, Trump followed through on a campaign promise he had been making for months and signed an executive order to withdraw from the TPP, which had been a cornerstone of Barack Obama’s policy to counter China’s growing global influence.

Countries which had signed on to the TPP less than a year ago, such as Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Chile and Japan are now wondering what kind of trade relationship will exist with the US. The TPP excludes all BRICS nations.

Hua said that the Asia-Pacific region should continue to exert its role as the engine of global economy under the current economic downturn, and establish an open economy.

“China is willing to work with all other countries to solve the problems facing the world today so as to shoulder its due responsibility to promote the common development and prosperity of the world,” she said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly said – at the November APEC meeting in Peru and most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – that his country is invested in multilateralism and economic integration.

To that end, China has proposed the FTAAP and the RCEP which could substitute the dashed efforts of the once US-led TPP free trade deal.

The FTAAP, if implemented, will add an estimated $2.4 trillion to the global economy, says a new survey by Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).

“We should firmly pursue the FTAAP as an institutional mechanism for ensuring an open economy in the Asia-Pacific,” Xi told global business leaders in Peru.

RCEP groups the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.

“For any regional trade arrangement to gain broad support, it must be open, inclusive and beneficial to all,” he said, adding that “closed and exclusive arrangement is not the right choice.”

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies