China Must Meet 'High Standards' to Join TPP: US Trade Rep
China has to meet high standards if it wants to join the U.S.-led trade negotiations with Asia Pacific economies, the acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis told CNBC.
President Barack Obama's administration launched talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP agreement in 2010, designed to boost trade relationships with the region. The TPP seeks to eliminate all trade barriers among partner countries and requires them to comply with the high standards of transparency and fostering economic integration within the region.
So far 11 countries have joined the free-trade negotiations, however, big economies of China, Japan and India are still to join. Experts have pointed out that without the world's second largest economy on board the TPP's impact will be limited.
(Read More: US Trade Gap With Asia to Worsen Unless...)
"We are open to any Asia Pacific economy who wants to join. When a country is ready to meet the high standards it will be welcome to participate," Marantis told CNBC, when questioned on China's possible involvement in the talks.
The acting U.S. Trade Representative also said cyber hacking was a major source of global trade friction.
Tensions between China and the U.S. over cyber hacking attacks have escalated in recent times. Earlier this month U.S. intelligence leaders named cyber attacks and cyber espionage as the number one security threat facing the U.S. supplanting terrorism.
"That's a huge emerging challenge in the global economy and we need to be vigilant in protecting against the misappropriation of trade secrets...It's a huge priority for us," he said.
The TPP hit the headlines recently as the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his intention for Japan to participate in the negotiations.
Japan's potential participation could open up its protected industries including agriculture, autos and insurance, but has been met with opposition at home over the threat of foreign competition.
(Read More: Trade Gap Plunges; Growth Better Than Estimates?)
"Abe's address last week made it clear he views trade as a central component of stimulating economic growth and recovery and building jobs. That's why we are involved in the TPP. We have all seen the central role trade plays in creating and supporting jobs," added Marantis.
Speculation over India joining the TPP has also risen recently, but Marantis expressed doubt saying: "There are serious challenges in our relationship now in respect to India's innovation climate and other issues that we are working closely with India to address," he said.
(Read More: Pacific Trade Pact Calls for Tough Japan Reforms)
The United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore have all signed up for the TPP talks. South Korea has been asked to join but has declined for the time being.