Australia sets conditions for China’s entry into Pacific Pact
China must end the freeze on contacts with top Australian politicians if it hopes to join a trans-Pacific trade pact, Canberra’s trade minister said on Wednesday, setting de facto preconditions for membership.
Dan Tehan has linked China’s bid to join an 11-country trade alliance with measures to improve bilateral ties which are at their lowest level in decades.
China formally asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) last week and is pushing for consensus support from members, including Australia.
It comes after a war of words between the two countries, a spate of sanctions on Australian goods and a months-long freeze on high-level government contacts.
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“When I became Minister of Commerce, I wrote to my Chinese counterpart in January explaining how we can work more closely together. I’m still waiting for a response, ”Tehan said in a speech Monday.
“One of the most important things in negotiating any country’s accession process to the CPTPP is that you need to be able to sit at the ministerial level, look your business partner in the eye and talk about this accession process.”
Tehan also said China should resolve disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO) resulting from a series of political sanctions on Australian imports.
Australia, Japan, United States… our partners in QUAD… all individually and through FTAs have strong trade ties with China.
We are outside of virtually all trade agreements; With the United States, we no longer even have MFN status.
What is wrong with us? Https: //t.co/TgrCpzLk0r
– SonaliRanade (@sonaliranade) September 21, 2021
“All parties will want to be sure that any new member will respect, implement and uphold the high standards of the agreement as well as their WTO commitments and existing trade agreements,” he said.
“It is in everyone’s best interests that everyone play by the rules.
Australia this month asked the WTO to rule against China’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports, after initial consultations failed to resolve the dispute.
Australia’s wine sales to China fell from more than A $ 1 billion ($ 840 million) to a virtual trickle after Beijing imposed the tariffs, industry figures show.
Australia is also challenging China’s barley tariffs at the WTO and has opposed sanctions on a range of other products, which Canberra calls “economic coercion.”
The measures are widely seen in Australia as punishment for pushing back Beijing’s operations to impose influence in Australia, rejecting Chinese investments in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
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But the Chinese Embassy in Australia this month lobbied Canberra to join the CPTPP, saying during an Australian parliamentary inquiry that China’s membership “would benefit all CPTPP members and the rest of the world “.
Signed by 11 Asia-Pacific countries in 2018, the partnership is the region’s largest free trade pact and represents around 13.5% of the global economy.
AFP with additional entry by GVS News Desk