China to push forward other accords after US leaves TPP

Beijing, Jan 24 (IANS) China on Tuesday announced it will continue to push forward alternatives to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement after the United States withdrew from it.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference that China remains committed to economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, and will continue to encourage negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), EFE reported.

The TPP that US President Donald Trump rejected on Monday, keeping to his campaign promise, was long seen as a US initiative to counter China’s economic and trade power in the region.

Beijing, which is not a signatory to the TPP, has consistently favored the RCEP and FTAAP, agreements it has signed, over it.

“China has been advocating transparent and win-win free trade arrangements. We believe that trade rules should apply equally to all parties,” said Hua.

“We are ready to work with all parties, keeping in mind the economic differences and diversity in this region,” added Hua, who recalled that President Xi Jinping has defended these positions in favor of free trade, both during the Asia Pacific summit in Lima and the recent Davos Forum.

“China has played a real, tangible role and we are ready to work with other parties to overcome the difficulties and contribute toward facing global challenges,” added Hua.

The RCEP brings together the countries belonging to the Association of Asia Pacific Nations- Australia, South Korea, India, Japan, New Zealand and China.

Beijing, which already has free trade agreements with the ASEAN countries, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, among others, hopes RCEP will lead to a greater FTAAP, which Beijing had promoted when it hosted the Asia-Pacific Summit in 2014.

“World economy remains weak and global trade is still suffering fluctuations and countries must work together to pursue open, inclusive and interconnected development,” Hua said.