Japan aims to expand CPTPP trade pact as UK, China eye membership

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the comment in a pre-recorded video message delivered at the Apec CEO Dialogues.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the comment in a pre-recorded video message delivered at the Apec CEO Dialogues.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO • Japan aims to expand a major regional free trade pact called the CPTPP, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said yesterday, potentially catering for China's and Britain's interest in joining the deal.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) links 11 countries, including Japan, Canada and Singapore.

"Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific through the early conclusion of the RCEP agreement and the steady implementation and expansion of the CPTPP as next year's chair," Mr Suga said.

He made the comment in a pre-recorded video message delivered at the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Dialogues, ahead of a leaders' virtual summit later in the day.

RCEP, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is the world's largest free trade deal, which was signed this month by 15 economies, while the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific is potentially an even larger pact that the 21-member Apec has been aspiring to.

A spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that his country was open to the idea of joining the CPTPP, while Britain earlier this year announced its intent to pursue accession to the pact.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to travel to Japan next week, marking the first high-level visit between the two countries since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a regular briefing yesterday.

Mr Motegi said he will meet Mr Wang for talks during the two-day visit that starts on Tuesday and will also likely include a courtesy visit on Mr Suga. Mr Wang will fly to Seoul the next day, the Korea Economic Daily said, and hold talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'Japan aims to expand CPTPP trade pact as UK, China eye membership'. Print Edition | Subscribe