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Biggest hurdles to China entry into trans-Pacific trade pact are political

AUCKLAND/BEIJING: China should be able to meet standards set out in a major trans-Pacific trade pact, trade experts say, forcing members to make a politically uncomfortable decision on whether to let Beijing join a deal created to counter its growing influence.

Britain joined the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) at a meeting in Auckland this month just over two years after its application, clearing the way for members to consider others from China, Taiwan, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Ecuador.

China’s application, by far the biggest economy, is next in line if they are dealt with in the order they were received, although that is not a given.

When asked whether there was a time frame for when the next applications would be considered, CPTPP host nation New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said: “No.”

The free trade agreement has its roots in the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, developed in part to counter China’s growing economic dominance.

The US pulled out under President Donald Trump and it was reborn as the CPTPP with members including close US allies Japan, Australia and Canada.

– Reuters