China Should Join the New Trans-Pacific Partnership

Peter A. Petri (PIIE) and Michael G. Plummer (Johns Hopkins University and East-West Center)
Policy Brief
19-1
January 2019
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

A year after President Donald Trump’s ill-advised pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in early 2017, the remaining 11 Asian and Pacific countries agreed on a deal in spite of the absence of the United States. Renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the accord took effect on December 30, 2018, and provides rigorous, up-to-date rules for Asia-Pacific trade—but it excludes the region’s two biggest economies, the United States and China.

Petri and Plummer calculate that Chinese membership in the CPTPP would yield large economic and political benefits to China and other members. The CPTPP, in its current form, would generate global income gains estimated at $147 billion annually. If China were to join, these gains would quadruple to $632 billion, or a quarter more than in the original TPP with the United States. But to join the CPTPP, China would have to undertake unprecedented reforms and manage complex political challenges.