Trans-Pacific Partnership

Hillary Clinton courts Asia, welcomes China in US-led trade talks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 3:19am

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed China and other Asian countries to join trade talks in mapping out a foreign policy focused more on economic strength than military might.

Clinton, speaking in Singapore a day before President Barack Obama arrives in Southeast Asia, said the US aims to combine the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership with other regional trade agreements to transform global commerce.

"For the first time in modern history, nations are becoming major global powers without also becoming global military powers," she said. "So to maintain our strategic leadership in the region, the US is strengthening our economic leadership … America's economic strength at home and our leadership around the world are a package deal."

Clinton said the US would encourage other countries to join the talks. "We continue to consult with Japan, and we are offering to assist with capacity building so that every country in Asean can eventually join," she said.

"We welcome the interest of any nation willing to meet the 21st century standards of the TPP - including China."

Asean will start talks on Tuesday on a trade area rivaling the TPP that combines the bloc's separate agreements already signed with China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Clinton said the US wants its companies to have a level playing field with China's state-owned enterprises in negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty.