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China indicates readiness to join US-led Pacific trade pact

An influential Communist Party newspaper has said China should join the US-led regional trade pact. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed earlier this month.

In a commentary in the bi-weekly Study Times published by the Central Party School for rising state officials, the TPP was deemed to have broad aims in line with China's own economic reform agenda.

"China should keep paying close attention and at an appropriate time, in accordance with progress on domestic reform, join the TPP, while limiting the costs associated to the greatest degree," the commentary stated.

The 12-member TPP began as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement with Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore as founders in 2005. From 2008 Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam became involved aiming to make a broader agreement.

China was not among the Pacific Rim countries which signed the TPP on October 1 after a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States.

But the commentary said China shared the broad aims of the TPP, including the reduction of administrative approvals and protection of the environment.

It did caution that China's state owned industries might be affected by joining the TPP. Such issues would need careful consideration as the party has made clear their key role in the economy, the commentary added.

To date, China has been promoting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This proposes a 16-nation, free trade area which would unite some 3.4 billion people - making it the world's largest such bloc. The RCEP is made up of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations association plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The TPP plans to cut trade barriers and set common standards. It has previously been presented as a way to counter China's rising economic and political power.

jm/bk (Reuters)

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