China touts Asia trade pact as TPP dumped

The Myanmar Times - - In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness -

CHINA hopes for “early re­sults” in ne­go­ti­a­tions for a gi­ant Asian trade pact, its for­eign min­istry said af­ter US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump vowed to ditch a ri­val deal, the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship.

Mr Trump pledged in a short video mes­sage to sig­nal the with­drawal of the US from the TPP – a vast, ar­du­ously ne­go­ti­ated agree­ment be­tween 12 coun­tries that does not in­clude China – on his very first day in the White House.

The TPP is the eco­nomic plank of out­go­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s strate­gic re­bal­ance to Asia, and depar­ture from the pact would ren­der it tooth­less.

An­a­lysts say the move could give Beijing – which backs the al­ter­na­tive Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) – an op­por­tu­nity to forge ahead with its own trade deals and fill a vac­uum left by any Amer­i­can with­drawal.

RCEP talks were press­ing ahead, said for­eign min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang, adding, “Now, we hope that such ne­go­ti­a­tions can achieve early re­sults.”

RCEP brings to­gether the 10 mem­bers of ASEAN plus China, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea, Aus­tralia and New Zealand, but no­tably ex­cludes the US.

China hoped that trade agree­ments would “re­in­force each other rather than un­der­cut each other”, Mr Geng said.

Shang­hai Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nomics pro­fes­sor Bin Jiancheng told AFP that an Amer­i­can with­drawal from the TPP would “give China some op­por­tu­ni­ties and time to pro­mote eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in Asia, in­clud­ing RCEP” and to ex­pand its in­flu­ence.

He noted that the Asian gi­ant’s ma­jor role in global com­merce – it is the world’s big­gest trader in goods – would pro­tect it from be­ing iso­lated or threat­ened by the TPP, whether or not the US took part.

But it would still be hard to over­take the US.

“Even if the US re­ally does not go through with TPP it will still use other meth­ods to main­tain its lead­ing role, and its abil­ity to set rules in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion,” Mr Bin said.

Com­mu­nist party mouth­piece the Peo­ple’s Daily said China-US re­la­tions were “too big to fail”.

It stressed the “spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” the pair had as the world’s two largest economies.

“It’s not dif­fi­cult to fore­see that China-US co­op­er­a­tion can bring huge ben­e­fits to both coun­tries and the world, but if there is con­stantly fric­tion be­tween them, it will bring dis­as­ter to all,” it added. –

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