China mulls joining Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership: Obama

Washington, June 4 (IANS) US President Barack Obama has said that China is considering the possibility of participating in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that will bring together 12 countries of the Pacific region.

“They’ve (the Chinese) already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point,” Obama said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

According to Obama, it is necessary for the US to set the business rules in the Asia-Pacific region, otherwise China will stipulate the trade guidelines, Efe news agency reported.

The treaty was signed in 2005 by Chile, Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore but is yet to be ratified by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

These 12 countries account for 40 percent of the global economy.

If China decides to join, it would substantially strengthen what is being projected as the largest trade agreement in history.

China’s involvement in the agreement could lead to criticism in the US especially due to concerns that it could lead to transfer of US jobs to China.

This can also increase pressure to include restrictions in TPP related to currency manipulation which the US government opposes and would punish countries that keep their currencies artificially low in order to boost its exports, something that China has done in the past.

Obama said that if China joined TPP in the future, it would need to accept the standards of labour rights and environmental protection which have been agreed to by the other 12 countries that were already negotiating to join him.

He added that even if Beijing ultimately decided not to join and if other economies in the region agreed to comply with the standards and protections of intellectual property “then China is going to have to at least take those international norms into account”.

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