TPP may affect China’s possible FTA with S. Korea, Japan: scholar

Yonhap News, Seoul

TPP may affect China’s possible FTA with S. Korea, Japan: scholar

By Kim Young-gyo

17 November 2011

HONG KONG, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) — An envisioned regional free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific may affect China’s possible free trade agreements with South Korea and Japan, giving the world’s No. 2 economy less bargaining power, a Chinese scholar said Thursday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is a trade agreement initiated by the United States, which is currently negotiating with trading partners such as Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It has gained momentum recently with Japan’s decision to join in the negotiations.

Song Guoyou, an associate professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, said that if South Korea or Japan joins the TPP, it could negatively impact China.

"The two countries may become less enthusiastic in striking a free trade agreement with China, or may press China to make concessions to their demands in the negotiation processes," he said.

South Korea and China completed a near four-year joint feasibility study on a possible bilateral FTA in May last year and reached an agreement to exchange their views on sensitive issues. Separately, South Korea, Japan and China are seeking to form a free trade agreement among the three Northeast Asian countries.

However, there are some concerns that under a free trade pact with China, South Korea’s agriculture and some other segments would be severely hit by an influx of cheap goods from the neighboring country.

Song also said the TPP could impact China’s exporters, as they are in direct competition in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the United States, with counterparts in South Korea and Japan.

The scholar said it is difficult for China to join the TPP negotiation talks, due to the specific terms such as those on government procurement, intellectual property and state-owned firms.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will arrive on the Indonesian resort island of Bali later Thursday for meetings with other national leaders. He is expected to discuss the TPP with other leaders.

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