APEC 2020: Japan seeks to expand CPTPP

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by AFP

JAPAN’S Prime Minister (PM) Yoshihide Suga has hinted at an expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), following interests expressed by the UK and China to join the trade pact.

“Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) through the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and the steady implementation and expansion of the CPTPP as next year’s chair,” Suga said in his keynote address at the virtual APEC CEO Dialogues 2020 today.

The CPTPP is made up of 11 signatory countries whose economies represent 13.4% of global GDP or US$13.5 trillion (RM55.2 trillion). Japan accounts for nearly half of CPTPP GDP and emerged as a leader in concluding the trade deal after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact.

The UK announced its intention to join the CPTPP earlier in June after free trade negotiations commenced between the UK and Japan. Meanwhile, China’s commerce ministry yesterday said Beijing is open to the idea of joining the CPTPP.

Beijing’s interest point to increasing Chinese influence across Asia. Last week, 15 countries signed the China-backed RCEP, which excludes the US.

Suga further announced Japan’s leadership in creating international rules linked to digital trade as his administration seeks to revive its domestic economy by taking on digitalisation and regulatory reforms.

Suga had already pledged to accelerate Japan’s administrative digitalisation agenda and is now seeking to exert greater control over developments on e-commerce rules globally via the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” he said.

International regulation of e-commerce continue to lag behind despite increasing contributions from the sector to the global economy.

Data by eMarketer featured in an APEC Report on E-Commerce in March showed six of the top 10 fastest-growing e-commerce economies in 2019 coming from the Asia-Pacific region, led by India and the Philippines at growth rates of over 30%, followed by China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea.

Mexico leads among Latin American nations with a growth rate of 35%, followed by Argentina with a growth rate of 18.8%. It is estimated that global retail e-commerce revenue will hit US$5 trillion (RM20.45 trillion) by 2021.