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Australia reassures Japan on CPTPP and strength of relationship

01/11/2023    19

Australia’s trade minister underscored to his Japanese counterpart the strength of bilateral ties between the nations and reassured Tokyo that Canberra would listen to its concerns on any applications to join a regional trade agreement.

Regarding the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, "we will continue to be like-minded. We value our partnership with Japan,” Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said in Osaka on Sunday in a meeting with Japan’s economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. Farrell added that all decisions on accession to CPTPP "must be consensus decisions,” indicating that Japanese concerns over the application of China would be heard.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to China later this week for the first visit by an Australian leader since 2016. Relations between Australia and China have been gradually improving since Albanese took office last year, with China lifting tariffs and unofficial bans on imports that it had imposed from 2020, when ties were souring.

The Chinese application to join the CPTPP will likely be on the agenda for Albanese’s visit. China applied to join in 2021 and is pushing for support from all the members to move its application forward.

Farrell said late last year that there was no prospect that China would be able to join, but the Chinese have continued to press ahead, including during Farrell’s visit to Beijing earlier this year. At that time, Farrell also said that joining the deal requires the unanimous consent of the countries who are members.

In Australia earlier this month, Nishimura said that Australia and Japan agree that economic coercion and unfair restrictive practices are counter to the aims and standards of CPTPP, a tacit warning against China’s attempt to join the trade group, according to the Sankei newspaper. At that time Nishimura and his Australian counterparts including Farrell agreed to ensure a trustworthy investment environment for the energy sector and strengthen supply chains of key minerals, according to Japan’s trade ministry. The two nations also signed an agreement on critical mineral supplies last year.

"I think it’s important to remember that the first overseas visit by the new prime minister, Prime Minister Albanese, was not to America, not to Europe — it was to Japan. And I think that was a sign of the very strong relationship between our two countries, our two democracies,” Farrell told Nishimura in Osaka. "In the post-pandemic world probably Australia and Japan have met more times in such a short space of time than we ever have.”

Source: The Japan Times