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China’s Trade and Investment Agreements

The policy of economic openness that China is implementing to foster its soft power globally includes two agreements that China wants to conclude, other than the RCEP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with the EU.

The CPTPP is a free trade treaty between several members of the Asia-Pacific macro-region, and some countries in the Americas. Initially proposed by Obama and later shelved by Trump, the CPTPP is a trade agreement that Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam are currently members of. In September 2021, China submitted a formal application to join the CPTPP in order to succeed the United States as a major trading partner. China's entry will be discussed in 2022 during upcoming CPTPP committee meetings.

On the other hand, the CAI is a treaty to encourage and facilitate investment and access to each other's markets that China and the EU have been negotiating since 2013. The treaty was initialed in 2020, however due to recent friction, its ratification has stalled.

The agreements that China has signed in recent years, in addition to investments and other initiatives such as the supply of medical equipment, masks and vaccines to countries most in need, show how China has understood the need to intensify international cooperation and multilateralism in order to improve relations with other countries and address the difficulties generated by the pandemic crisis. Increasing influence on other countries also serves Beijing to position itself as a global power and equal partner with the United States.

Among the 19 agreements on trade that China has signed, 12 concern countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region and all of its multilateral free trade agreements are related to this area of the world. The economic agreements under negotiation with countries in the East and the Pacific are with 13 countries (Israel, Palestine, South Korea, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Japan), the treaties under consideration are 5 (Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, Fiji, Papua New Guinea). Of the total 61 UN member countries in the Asia and Oceania region, China has tax agreements with 38 countries that, in addition to trade, promote investment between Beijing and the rest of the region.

Asia-Pacific is the number one continent in the world, by aggregate GDP per population and territory; for Beijing, being a leader in this mega region means playing the biggest role in global economic relations.


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