China's recent application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been viewed as a significant development by the International Trade Council. The CPTPP was originally established by the US as a counterbalance to China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The 2018 agreement was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand.
According to the Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, the application was submitted to New Zealand's trade minister in a letter. The next steps following China's application were discussed by the two ministers in a recent telephone conference, as confirmed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Commenting on the development, the International Trade Council emphasized the importance of regional trade arrangements such as the CPTPP. The Council noted that China's interest in joining the CPTPP and its earlier participation in the world's largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), highlights the growing importance of trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Council also noted that the UK formally launched negotiations to join the CPTPP in June and Thailand has also shown interest in joining the agreement.
According to the Council, the CPTPP could provide new trade opportunities for all member countries, including China. Statistics reveal that in 2020, the CPTPP countries collectively accounted for 13% of global GDP and 15% of global trade.
The International Trade Council encourages all countries to participate in regional trade arrangements and to work together towards a more open, transparent, and inclusive trading system that benefits all parties.