(Yicai Global) March 13 -- The first executive order new US President Trump signed withdrew the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement. China is now considering participating in the TPP members' meeting this week in Chile to fill the void.
Geng Shuang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, confirmed in a March 10 press conference that China will attend the Trans-Pacific Partner (TPP) members' meeting Chile will host next week. The meeting likewise invited South Korea, which is also expected to attend.
TPP countries may propose to parley free trade with China at the meeting. TPP was a US-led free-trade agreement until Trump backed the US out on the third day of his presidency. Australia and other members afterward voiced their hope for China's entry. The former view was that China would join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to obtain dominant free-trade power in the Asia Pacific after the USA bowed out of TPP. RCEP is a proposed free trade zone made up of the 10 existing members of the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), plus six nations with which it has trade agreements, and would enfold 30 percent of the world's economy and nearly half its population. The more comprehensive TPP -- which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand among others -- would have encompassed 40 percent of the global economy and 20 percent of global trade had the US stayed pat, as CNN.com reported. Ex-president Obama had sought to wield the TPP as a weapon to counter China's influence in the region. His successor has now not only forfeited the field without firing a shot, but gifted the whole shebang to Beijing to boot.
Though China has not committed to participating in the TPP or chairing the talks, it may nonetheless form an important stepping-stone toward the PRC's future regional hegemony. Ongoing regional free-trade powwows are good news for global trade in the tableau of growing isolationism and protectionism Trump personifies.