China said it hopes to conclude an Asia-wide trade pact as soon as possible in an apparent bid to widen its regional influence after US President-elect Donald Trump vowed to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday Asian leaders are pressing ahead with talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that China has backed as an alternative to the US-led deal, and “hope that such negotiations can achieve early results”, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama had pursued the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the cornerstone of American engagement in Asia, but Trump contends the pact would be a disaster and hurt US jobs, the newspaper said.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, a TPP supporter, is now calling on countries in the region to boost trade by backing the China-led RCEP and other initiatives.
“There are still other pathways to free trade in the Asia-Pacific,” Lee was quoted as saying.
Vietnam and Malaysia, TPP members, also said they are shifting their focus to the China-backed group, the report said.
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