China is ready to "pounce in" to engage with the 11 countries the U.S. has struck a trade accord with, if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) falls through, a U.S. government official said on Thursday.
Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export–Import Bank of the U.S., told CNBC of the that the rest of the world was moving quickly on free trade agreements, with 600 already in place.
"We really can't afford to sit on the sidelines and lose out," Hochberg said on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum in New Delhi. "If we don't do TPP, China is ready to engage with them."
The U.S. and 11 countries in the Pacific region last year reached an accord to liberalize trade, set common trade standards and cut barriers. But doubts have grown over whether U.S. Congress would ratify the agreement, after both U.S. presidential candidates adopted a more protectionist stance ahead of the November elections.
China already has a plan to compete against the TPP.
The world's second-largest economy is the key driver of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus regional trading partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.