Li Wenlong, Senior Economist at the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), in Lianhe Zaobao (October 19, 2021)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Ministry of Commerce, Thailand)
On September 16, 2021, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). A week later, Taiwan filed its own application. Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico have all expressed their support for China's accession. Meanwhile, Japan and Australia have shown no intention of supporting China's joining in the short term. Singapore, as a founding member with close relations with China, should play a more active role in promoting China's membership.
Once China joins, the development prospects of CPTPP will improve for the following reasons:
First, China is already the largest trading country in the world and the Asia-Pacific region. Without China's participation, the CPTPP would not be a true Asia-Pacific trade agreement.
Second, preventing China from joining goes against the concept of CPTPP as a free-and-open trade agreement. Instead, it would turn the CPTPP into a political tool used to confront and contain China. Owing to the political intentions of Japan and Australia against China, the ideological nature of the CPTPP has been strengthened. But other member states, including Singapore, do not want to conflict with China.
Third, the CPTPP is an important measure to promote further China's integration into Asia-Pacific and global trade. China has already conducted comprehensive research and evaluations and committed to high-level market opening that exceeds China’s current practices.
Finally, support for China to join the CPTPP will also ultimately benefit Singapore. At present, China is Singapore's largest trading partner. By supporting China's accession, the bilateral trade relationship between Singapore and China can be consolidated further.