China must reconnect with Australian leaders if it is to join the important Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a regional free trade treaty, Australia's trade minister said on Wednesday. Dan Tehan conditioned Beijing's bid for this trade treaty signed by 11 countries to an improvement in bilateral relations, the lowest in decades. Last week, China formally asked to join this important partnership and lobbied for support from every member of the pact, including Australia.
The move comes amid a tumultuous geopolitical backdrop, which has seen China impose tariffs on a range of Australian products, including wine and barley. The two countries have not had ministerial contacts for months. “
When I became Minister of Commerce, I wrote to my Chinese counterpart in January explaining how we could work more closely together. I'm still waiting for a response,
”said Dan Tehan. "
One of the most important things in negotiating for CPTPP membership is being able to sit down at the ministerial level, look your business partner in the eye and talk about this membership process
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Dan Tehan also indicated that Beijing will have to resolve disputes over tariffs, particularly affecting Australian wine, within the World Trade Organization (WTO).
All parties will want to be sure that any new member will respect, apply and adhere to the terms of the agreement as well as its commitments to the WTO and existing trade agreements
," he said.
It is in everyone's interest that everyone respects the rules of the game
Last week, Chinese Trade Minister Wang Wentao presented China's official request to join this regional free trade pact, which accounts for about 13.5% of the global economy. Binding some 500 million people, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership succeeded in 2018 a previous treaty that the United States withdrew in 2017, under President Donald Trump. The 11 members of the CPTPP will have to reach a consensus to allow Beijing to join, a delicate prospect. Australia last week unveiled a strategic military partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom, to provide it with nuclear submarines to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.