CPTPP focuses on Taiwan, China

  • Reuters, Auckland, New Zealand

Members of a major trans-Pacific trade pact gathered information yesterday on Taiwan, China and other countries interested in joining the deal to see if they can meet the deal’s „high standards”.

These comments followed the meeting of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Auckland where the UK formally signed the agreement as a member, and decided to review and renew the agreement.

Along with Taiwan and China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ukraine and Uruguay have also applied to join the treaty. Decisions on which countries can join and when are made jointly.

Photo: Reuters

„Members are currently undertaking an information-gathering process on whether they can meet the high standards of the CPTPP, taking into account their experience in their trading responsibilities,” the members said in a joint statement.

The CPTPP is a landmark trade agreement signed in 2018 between 11 countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The UK has become the 12th member of the deal to reduce trade barriers as it looks to deepen ties in the Pacific region after leaving the EU in 2020.

„We continue to discuss how to jointly advance access processes in a way that reflects all our interests and maintains high standards,” the CPTPP statement said.

China’s application to join the treaty is next in line if it is processed in the order in which it was received, but the country faces several obstacles to inclusion.

The CPTPP requires countries to eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs, make strong commitments to open services and investment markets, and contains provisions on competition, intellectual property rights, and protections for foreign companies.

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New Zealand Trade and Export Development Minister Damien O’Connor, who chaired the CPTPP meeting, told a news conference there was no timeline for when any decisions on future membership would be made.

„It’s a complicated area,” O’Connor said of membership applications, adding that no country’s application was discussed on Sunday.

China has opposed Taiwan’s application, which will be reviewed later by Beijing.

Earlier in the day, the UK had signed the agreement, although it still had to be ratified by the country’s government.

At the signing, British Secretary of State for Trade and Commerce, Cammy Patenock, said she was delighted that her country had become the first new member of the CPTPP.

„This is a modern and ambitious deal and our membership of this exciting, intelligent and forward-looking group is proof that the UK’s doors are open for business,” said Badenoch.

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