Parliamentary Inquiry supports CPTPP trade expansion to include UK, Taiwan and South Korea

THE Federal Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) has tabled its report on Expanding the membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Ted O’Brien, chair of the Trade Sub-Committee, said, “Australia should support the expansion of the CPTPP to include new members, but not unconditionally.

"Only aspiring economies that support an open, transparent and stable trading environment and those that demonstrate an ability and willingness to meet the agreement’s high standards should be considered," Mr O’Brien said.

"The CPTPP is one of the world’s most comprehensive trade agreements and its quality must be maintained." 

Among the committee’s recommendations was that the Australian Government work with other CPTPP members to encourage and facilitate the accession of the United Kingdom, Taiwan and South Korea.

"The UK was the first to apply to join the CPTPP and the process it’s going through can be a template for other future aspirants," Mr O’Brien said.

The committee’s recommendation on Taiwan went one step further, suggesting the government also consider negotiating a bilateral Taiwan-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"A lesson from our experience with the UK is that benefits accrue from negotiating a bilateral FTA and the CPTPP at the same time, and we see merit in replicating this approach with Taiwan," Mr O’Brien said.

On China, the committee recommended the Australian Government work with other CPTPP members to, "encourage China to re-establish full trading relations including ending its coercive trade measures and reengaging in ministerial dialogue, and to demonstrate an ability and willingness to commit to the CPTPP’s high standards, prior to supporting the commencement of an accession process".

"The ball is in their court," Mr O’Brien said. "It’s up to China if it wishes to re-engage with Australia and I hope it does because that would enable the discussions that are necessary to determine whether an accession process should commence."

The United States has not sought to join the CPTPP since it withdrew from negotiations under President Trump. Nevertheless, the committee recommended that the Australian Government work with other CPTPP members to encourage the US to renew its interest.

The committee also recommended ongoing informal discussions with other economies that have expressed an interest in joining the CPTPP including Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

A copy of the report and further information about the inquiry is available from the committee’s website.



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