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China’s inclusion in CPTPP may give Asean shot in arm
[Image: 20201006-chinaflag-afp.jpg]

KUALA LUMPUR – When Beijing filed its formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) recently, the world reverberated by the move that could reshape regional trade.

Malaysia and Singapore, as members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), announced that they are “looking forward to welcoming” the interest.

The world has been speculating on how such an inclusion would bring mutual benefits to the regional bloc – Nikkei Asia reported that negotiations with China could start in 2022 at the earliest.

Pundits, however, have different perspectives that, among others, envisage Asean to gain a lot more from the concurrent inclusion of China in CPTPP as well as in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

During the 38th and 39th Asean Summits and related summits scheduled from October 26 to 28, 2021, the issue of China’s inclusion is expected to be the subject of frequent discussion.

Former Deputy Secretary-General for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Dr Aladdin D. Rillo said the new bid is definitely positive and impacts favourably on Asean.

Both CPTPP and RCEP are two important trade agreements that will widen trade liberalisation through their significant provisions on market access and promotion of private investment due to regulatory reforms, he said.

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