by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, and Philippine President, Benigno Aquino, see no reason why their countries should not be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
President Aquino is the host of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC summit, which opened in Manila on Monday.
O’Neill told Russian media outlet ‘Sputnik’ that other APEC member countries may possibly be invited to join the 12-nation trade agreement, a topic high on APEC’s agenda.
The agreement involves other Pacific Rim countries, as well as major players like Singapore and the United States, but excludes China.
It has been criticised for its secrecy, but experts have warned of its potential to lower product standards, and access to generic drugs in developing countries.
President Aquino said the TPP’s inclusivity defies the purpose of trade agreements.
“Our theme is inclusivity. Every country would want to be part of all of these agreements. We were not invited to TPP to begin with, but we’re expecting to be invited when they do open up membership,” Aqiono said.
“If the whole idea is to broaden trade, making it exclusive actually defeats the whole purpose of why you enter into all of these agreements,” he added.
Beijing has proposed a 16-member free-trade agreement, that would encompass 3.4 billion people – expected to be the world’s biggest. China has also proposed the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), to build on its trade agreements with other countries in the region.