China is pushing for a significant trans-Pacific free trade agreement, as a rival US-led deal that excludes the country is yet to reach an agreement.
Wang Shouwen, an assistant commerce minister, told reporters at a briefing that China has proposed setting up a working group to study the feasibility of an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTAAP).
The proposal comes ahead of a meeting in May of trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, which China will be hosting.
"The feasibility study will look into the potential economic benefits if APEC members reach a free trade agreement, how to make use of existing FTAs…and whether we can use the similar aspects of the various FTAs to serve the general FTA within the Asia-Pacific region", Wang Shouwen said. "We think there will be no conflict between the FTAAP and the region's other FTAs under discussion," he added.
In addition to these proposed agreements, the US has also been trying to secure agreement on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a grouping of 12 nations including Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Mexico, all of which belong to APEC. However, these talks have been delayed due to issues related to Japan's tightly-guarded auto and agricultural sectors.
The President of China, Xi Jinping, said in October 2013 that the country will "commit itself to building a trans-Pacific regional co-operation framework that benefits all parties."