China is looking into the possibility of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This is a Pacific-nation trade deal. Ironically, CPTPP started off as the TPP, which was originally meant to be a challenge to China’s trade practices. It excluded China, but then got rechristened after the US pulled out of the deal. The TPP was previously negotiated by the US with Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and seven other Pacific countries. It was touted at the time as an alternative framework to the World Trade Organization amid criticisms that the current trade enforcement regime was outdated and failed to address issues related to services, intellectual property and the digital economy properly.
China’s change of attitude has possibly been prompted by the new trade deal reached among the US, Canada and Mexico, which contains provisions aimed at excluding China from future trade deals. Should the US form a similar pact with the CPTPP, whose guiding force is Japan, it could threaten Chinese market access to trading partners.
China, like other emerging countries, follows a primary strategy of promoting economic and social development. The growing spending power of consumers in developing countries injects vitality into the global market.