Speculation that China May Join TPP Talks

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Jun. 7 – With Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting the United States over this upcoming weekend, speculation is growing that as an olive branch to be offered to develop trust between the two countries, China might be invited to join talks over joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. China has been highly critical of the TPP bloc, seeing it as a move to deliberately leave the country out of multilateral trade discussions and to boost instead trade with its competitors.

However, China’s Ministry of Commerce said last week that China was open to joining the TPP. Other TPP members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The long term view of the TPP is that the wealthier members are likely to fund manufacturing facilities in the lesser developed nations such as Mexico and Vietnam in order to improve their manufacturing and quality standards. This will, in turn, allow the United States and the more developed nations of the TPP to lessen dependence upon Chinese imports.

Nonetheless, the United States has always maintained that China is welcome to enter discussions over the TPP. President Xi, seeking ways to improve China’s image in multilateral trade following rows with Japan and many of its neighbors over territorial issues that impacted on trade, may want to steer a course away from China’s previous foreign policy aggressiveness and towards tax treaties and trade blocs as a way to improve its relations and diminish domestic opposition over state reforms – which do not want to see China engage with foreign competitors.

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