Sunday 06 December 2020
News ID: 85029
Publish Date: 20 November 2020 - 19:47
TOKYO (Dispatches) -- Japan said on Friday it plans to expand a major free trade pact that would also serve the interests of China and Britain in joining the deal, as part of efforts aimed at countering the U.S.’ protectionist policy and enhancing regional convergence in economic relations.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the announcement via video link at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Malaysia, while commenting on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that excludes the U.S. and links 11 countries, including Canada, Australia and Japan.
"Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific through the early conclusion of the RCEP agreement and the steady implementation and expansion of the CPTPP as next year’s chair,” Suga said, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
A spokesman for the Chinese commerce ministry announced on Thursday that Beijing was open to the idea of joining the CPTPP, while Britain earlier this year expressed willingness to pursue accession to the pact.
The 11 countries are set to form a trading bloc that represents 495 million consumers and 13.5% of global GDP, providing Canada with preferential access to key markets in Asia and Latin America.
Moreover, the China-backed RCEP has been hailed as the world’s largest free trade deal signed by 15 economies this month, while the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is potentially an even larger pact that the 21-member APEC has been aspiring to.
The RCEP agreement consists of ten Southeast Asian countries, as well as China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Described by experts as a major win for multilateralism and free trade, despite America’s withdrawal from many international agreements, the RCEP is often compared to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that U.S. President Donald Trump defiantly tore up soon after he took office.
The RCEP agreement, signed on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after nearly a decade of negotiations, is very important because of its sheer size, which covers nearly a third of global economy.

* Comment: