BANGKOK – China says it is studying the possibility of joining the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, about a month after the existing 11 members allowed Japan to join the negotiations.
“We will analyze the advantages, disadvantages and the possibility of joining the TPP, based on careful research and according to principles of equality and mutual benefit,” Shen Danyang, a Commerce Ministry spokesman, said in a statement on its website Thursday. “China also hopes to exchange information and materials with TPP members on the negotiations.”
The nation’s inclusion in the talks would bring together the world’s three biggest economies, accounting for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product. Countries currently involved in the TPP completed the 17th round of talks in Peru last week and aim to reach an agreement by year’s end.
China began talks this month with 15 other Asian countries on a separate trade agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. That pact would include Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
China’s statement on the TPP was included as one of several different “hot issues” posted in a question-and-answer form on the ministry’s website.
“China has attached importance to the TPP negotiations and continuously followed their development,” Shen said. “China also has continuously listened to the opinions of various government departments and industries on the TPP.”
The existing parties to the TPP talks are the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Japan is simultaneously pushing ahead with talks on a raft of trade pacts, including with South Korea and China, Australia and the European Union.
In November, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the TPP in a speech in Singapore.
“We welcome the interest of any nation willing to meet the 21st century standards of the TPP — including China,” she said.
The U.S. has pushed the TPP as a template for a wider trade agreement that would eventually include all 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
In March, China’s then-Commerce Minister Chen Deming told reporters that the nation is open to regional trade cooperation that is transparent and doesn’t exclude any countries.
TPP countries agreed to admit Japan to the talks April 20, saying in a statement that it would allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to join “in a manner that allows the negotiations to continue expeditiously toward conclusion.”