China pushes for Asia-Pacific trade agreement membership

  • China has been pushing for membership in a high-level Asia-Pacific trade and investment pact and will step up efforts to attract foreign investment, according to the country’s top trade negotiator.
  • Wang Shouwen, China’s vice-minister for commerce, said Beijing had researched more than 2,300 clauses and items in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and combed through the reforms, laws and regulations that the country needed to carry out and revise for membership.
  • Wang said China had submitted a document to the members and was “willing to and capable of” joining the pact.
  • CPTPP membership requires approval from all member countries, namely Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and the United Kingdom.
  • China failed to secure a public endorsement from Australia to join the trade bloc during Australian Trade minister Don Farrell’s trip to Beijing.
  • The CPTPP’s membership criteria include ownership and labour standards – two areas where Beijing is seen as falling short of the requirements.
  • Foreign business communities have voiced fatigue over unmet promises in recent years and called on Beijing to carry out concrete moves to open market access and provide policy certainty.
  • Inflows of foreign direct investment to China dropped 5.6% in the first five months of 2023 to USD84.35bn, after falling by 3.3% in the first four months, the Ministry of Commerce said last week (5-11 Jun)

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