China applies to join Asia Pacific trade pact CPTPP but faces scrutiny by current 11 member states

Fri 22 Oct 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Japan, chair of Asia Pacific trade bloc CPTPP, says it will determine if China meets the “extremely high standards” of after the world's second-biggest economy formally applied to join the powerful group of 11 countries.

China’s commerce minister Wang Wentao submitted the application in a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor, the Chinese ministry said in a statement late yesterday (Thursday 22 October). 

Reuters reports that Japan said it would consult with the other 10 member countries.

“Japan believes that it’s necessary to determine whether China, which submitted a request to join the TPP-11, is ready to meet its extremely high standards,” Japanese economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters on Friday.

‘Zero chance’

However, Japan’s deputy finance minister suggested in a tweet that China’s subsidies for nationalised businesses and arbitrary application of the law would make membership problematic.

“China ... is far removed from the free, fair and highly transparent world of TPP, chances that it can join are close to zero,” state minister of finance Kenji Nakanishi tweeted.

The BBC reports China's trade policies have come under strong criticism during a review at the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

The US accused China of using “unfair trade practices” such as subsidies, while Australia said China’s behaviour was “inconsistent” with its WTO commitments. 

Pandemic trade war

During the pandemic, China has imposed restrictions on many Australian exports including barley, coal, sugar, wine and beef. The measure came after Australia called for an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus. 

The UK became the first non-founder member to apply to join the CPTPP at the beginning of the year. As covered in the IOE&IT Daily Bulletin, accession talks formally began in the summer.

Taiwan is also expected to ask to join the trade pact, which could create more friction as China claims the country as part of its own territory and would be displeased if it was recognised in this way.