The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid

Author: Juan J Palacios, University of Guadalajara China’s bid for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a multifaceted move. An overlooked aspect of it is the fact that the CPTPP is the first major free trade agreement established on a trans-Pacific scale and that three of its four members […] The post The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid first appeared on East Asia Forum.

The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid

Author: Juan J Palacios, University of Guadalajara

China’s bid for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a multifaceted move. An overlooked aspect of it is the fact that the CPTPP is the first major free trade agreement established on a trans-Pacific scale and that three of its four members on the eastern side of the Pacific happen to be Latin American countries.

China’s application was presented to the CPTPP Commission the same day that the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced AUKUS — a security alliance that unabashedly seeks to bring about a new balance of power in the Pacific.

This was also the rationale for the design of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement predicated on former US president Barack Obama’s statement that ‘the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay’. In both cases, the underlying purpose was to counter the strides that China was making to gain military and strategic supremacy in the region.

Although it may take years to materialise, accession to the CPTPP would permit Beijing to be part of a regional arrangement that was originally intended to counter its power in the Pacific. It would also open the possibility for China to fill the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of the United States from the TPP in 2017.

Beijing could profit from the closer economic integration the CTPPP is likely to generate among its member countries which, in the absence of Washington, would probably slide towards China’s economic and political sphere. CPTTP membership would simultaneously enable Beijing to deepen its economic and political ties with the pact’s Latin American members and with Latin America at large.

Those ties were significantly strengthened with the creation of the China–CELAC Forum in July 2014. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is an intergovernmental mechanism which was established in 2010 for dialogue and cooperation among the 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Membership of the CPTPP would widen the possibilities for China to tap into this market of more than 652 million people and a region rich in natural resources with a myriad of greenfield investment opportunities. It would also provide a huge potential to expand trade links and build supply chains led by Chinese companies.

China’s membership would be beneficial for Latin America as well. China is South America’s top export market and the second for Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole. Among China’s top 100 trading partners, 13 are Latin American and Caribbean countries. Chinese exports to these countries topped US$142 billion in 2020 — 5.5 per cent of China’s total exports.

With the exception of Asia’s main trading destinations, China’s exports to Mexico are larger than those to any other East Asian economy, including Australia. Three of China’s top 25 import-originating countries are Latin American — Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

It can then be expected that Latin American members will welcome China’s incorporation into the CPTPP — in principle, the same could occur if Taiwan is accepted, although in this case Latin American governments might be more cautious so as to not compromise their support for China. Besides the likely economic benefits, the presence of China would counter the weight and influence the US would command should the Biden administration decided to join in and thus bring about a more balanced power play within the pact.

The Latin American country that would give China the warmest welcome is Mexico, especially given the openly anti-US stance Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has adopted since Biden took office, Mexico’s membership in the US–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) notwithstanding. In fact, visible signs of mutual empathy have been sent from both sides. At the 2021 CELAC summit meeting held in Mexico City on September 18, two world leaders were invited as keynote speakers — Chinese President Xi Jinping (the first to speak) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Two days before, Xi had sent a warm congratulatory message to Lopez Obrador to mark the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

On those bases, Xi could cultivate a closer relationship with Lopez Obrador by building on his anti-US stance and thus gain a valuable ally. Beijing could find friendly ground in a country that shares a 3145-km border with China’s rival in the new cold war that is unfolding nowadays.

If Biden decides to join the CPTPP, Washington would surely do what it could to make Beijing’s accession difficult. One way of doing this would be to press Canada and Mexico to force China to satisfy more and harder-to-meet requirements. Another would be to invoke the USMCA’s Article 32.10.5, the so called ‘poison pill’ clause, and threaten to walk away from the agreement.

Mexico and Canada signed the CPTPP in March 2018 and the USMCA eight months later. If China were accepted to the CPTPP, neither would be signing a new agreement with a ‘non-market’ economy but simply abiding China’s admission into a multi-country trade agreement of which they happen to be members already.

If the ‘poison pill’ were invoked, then Canada or Mexico would have to agree on exiting the USMCA and promptly sign a bilateral pact with the United States. This seems highly unlikely given the strong trade links among these three countries and the deeply entrenched continental supply chains they share.

Juan J Palacios is Professor at the Centre for Strategic Development Studies, University of Guadalajara, and a member of the PAFTAD International Steering Committee.

The post The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid first appeared on East Asia Forum.
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Mayor De Blasio puts up $111M for NYCHA façade fixes

Web Desk: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced to spend $111 million on fixing facades of public housing buildings in order to bring down unsightly sidewalk sheds that have long blighted complexes. “I think it bothers NYCHA residents when you have those big sidewalk sheds, those big scaffolds that just seem to sit there …

Mayor De Blasio puts up $111M for NYCHA façade fixes

Web Desk:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced to spend $111 million on fixing facades of public housing buildings in order to bring down unsightly sidewalk sheds that have long blighted complexes.

“I think it bothers NYCHA residents when you have those big sidewalk sheds, those big scaffolds that just seem to sit there for a long time and affect the quality of life, they affect the whole feeling of living in a development,” he said during a morning virtual press briefing, calling the structures a persistent issue that has bothered him throughout his tenure.

The eyesores have been left standing for up to five years due to a lack of sufficient resources to mend the buildings’ faces, according to the mayor.

The 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home are the backbone of our city, and we’re investing $111 million to repair building facades and pull down the sheds that have been eyesores in the community for too long, Mayor de Blasio said.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

“We’re putting the resources in, the repairs get made, the sheds come down, the development’s safer, it looks better, it’s better for everyone,” said de Blasio.

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Lower East Side) said she was grateful for City Hall’s new investments. Meltzer Towers, a public housing complex for seniors, will be among the buildings the funding will be used to fix, the lawmaker noted.

“These sheds are not just a matter of aesthetic improvements,” ” she said. “They are safety issues, and constant reminders of systemic disinvestment in public housing, and they can make buildings look and feel forgotten.”

Source : Voice of South Asia More   

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