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China to evaluate impact of TPP comprehensively: Commerce Minister
October 9, 2015, 5:06 am

File Photo: Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang walk to cast their votes at the fifth plenary meeting of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 15, 2013 [Xinhua]

File Photo: Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang walk to cast their votes at the fifth plenary meeting of the first session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 15, 2013 [Xinhua]

China is open to any trade mechanism as long as they follow the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and are beneficial to economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said.

Gao made the remarks in a recent interview concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a statement posted on the commerce ministry website said Thursday.

“China hopes the TPP pact and other free trade arrangements in the region can boost each other and contribute to the Asia-Pacific’s trade, investment and economic growth,” said the commerce minister.

China will evaluate the likely impact of the TPP “comprehensively and systematically”.

Twelve Pacific rim countries sealed the TPP deal early Monday to create the largest free trade area of the world.

“China is willing to cooperate with the US in formulating global trade regulations following the multilateral trading system so as to push forward regional and world economic development and improve people’s well-being,” said Gao.

The Chinese Commerce Minister also said that the changes of global trade pattern will finally be decided by industrial structure adjustment and product competitiveness in international markets.

Gao said China will push forward regional trade blocks such as the China-backed RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

China has 14 free trade agreements in place with 22 countries and regions, including Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Beijing will also push forward the negotiations of the China-Japan-ROK free trade zone, said Gao.

China believes WTO members will not easily give up the multilateral trading system, and hopes the Doha round of WTO talks would be accomplished as early as possible, Gao said.

None of the BRICS countries are included in the US-led TPP pact.

The TPP is aimed at establishing a free-trade bloc that would encompass 800 million people, about a third of world trade and nearly 40 per cent of the global economy.

“We’re organising trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards,” Obama said referring to the TPP in a presidential debate in 2012.

Washington’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is seen aligned with its “pivot to Asia” strategy.

China has instead been backing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations which would include all 10 ASEAN member states and the six FTA partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia, at the initial stage.

Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in November last year decided to “launch and comprehensively and systemically push forward” the mammoth China-backed Asia Pacific FTA negotiations despite reported opposition from the US.

Chinese officials said in May last year that Beijing has proposed studying the feasibility of a mammoth free-trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region in addition to the contesting FTA’s, the US-led TPP and the China-led RCEP.

The Beijing-backed roadmap for this ambitious FTA would be studied over the next two years.

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

The survey also said the US-led TPP trade pact, when completed, will add about $223 billion and the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) about $644 billion.

Beijing is trying to counter US’ progress in forming the Trans-Pacific Partnership that excludes China by this alternate mega Free Trade Agreement in the Asia Pacific.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will also support China’s push for a roadmap on the Asia Pacific FTA.

“Obviously, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is just another U.S. attempt to build an architecture of regional economic cooperation that the USA would benefit from. At the same time, I believe that the absence of two major regional players such as Russia and China in its composition will not promote the establishment of effective trade and economic cooperation,” said Putin in November last year.

“The multilateral system of economic relations in the APR can only be strong if the interests of all states of the region are taken into account. This approach is reflected in the draft of the Beijing road map for the establishment of an Asia-Pacific free trade area,” he added.

By pushing for a wider deal in the Asia Pacific that would equal the EU, China would also steal a march over the TPP championed by President Barack Obama’s administration.

However, if the Asia-Pacific FTA succeeds in materializing, it would finally bring the United States and China into an agreement to deepen trade liberalization, after more than a decade of failed talks.

 

 

TBP and Agencies

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