Australia wants US back in TPP agreement

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Australia wants the US back in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as soon as possible under President Joe Biden to maximise the benefits of the trade agreement.

While the US was an original member of the then 12-country agreement, former president Donald Trump withdrew soon after his election.

“Ultimately, what we want to do is encourage the US to deepen its economic engagement in the region by the joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Australia’s ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos told an online conference on Wednesday.

“At the moment the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a bit like Hamlet without the prince.”

The former Liberal senator says the US needs to be there to maximise the benefits of the agreement and the strategic benefits of the US being in the region.

Along with Australia, the TPP is made up of Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam

Australia also wants the US to help reform the World Trade Organisation with other like-minded countries to encourage China, in particular, to co-operate within the existing rules-based order.

“… rather than somehow seek to change the order in their own favour,” Mr Sinodinos told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia economic and political outlook 2021 conference.

One of President Biden’s first actions was to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and to confirm a zero emissions target by 2050.

Asked if this will put additional pressure on Australia to follow suit, Mr Sinodinos said there was no doubt this would be taken into account when forming domestic policy.

But he says the Australian government is arguing that targets are one thing, getting there is another.

President Biden is due to hold a climate leaders’ summit on April 22.

The ambassador was asked whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been invited.

“Look, we haven’t see the invite list as yet. But if you want to influence countries to do something, you invite them to come,” he said.

He said Australia already had a good relationship with the US, founded on deep historical ties, common heritage, trade investment relationships and shared values and interest.

“We did well under the previous administration compared to many other countries but there is plenty of scope to deepen bilateral engagement and encourage the commitment to the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Sinodinos said.


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