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Australia’s prime minister suggests China could replace U.S. in TPP

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Australia is considering seeking to replace the United States with China as a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade bloc. After U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw the United States from the 12-nation TPP, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested China could be a replacement. “Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP,” Turnbull said. China already is part of the impending 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which excludes the United States.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told the Australian Broadcast Corp. the TPP’s “original architecture was to enable other countries to join.” “Certainly I know Indonesia has expressed a possible interest and there would be scope for China, if we are able to reformulate it, to be a TPP ’12 minus one’ ” he said. But he said there were a number of “competing factors” in a TPP 12-minus-one agreement, including Trump attempting to renegotiate the North American free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. During a news conference, Turnbull said the United States pulling out was a “big loss” for the TPP.

“It is possible that U.S. policy could change over time on this, as it has done on other trade deals,” He said Australia has talked with Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and Peru to salvage the deal. Other members are Vietnam and Brunei. According to the final chapter of the TPP, at least six of its 12 original members must ratify the agreement for it to continue, and they must represent 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of all 12 countries. In order for TPP to survive, Japan must stay in, as its GDP combined with the GDP of the United States represents 79 percent of the combined GDP of the original signatories. On Tuesday, the trade spokesman for the Australian Labor Party, Jason Clare, said: “It’s over. Donald Trump has killed the TPP. It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to wake up and move on, and develop a real economic plan for Australia.”

– UPI

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