Australian trade minister Dan Tehan said during an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that he is "very much looking forward" to "constructive engagement" with China, which is a necessary step for China to join the CPTPP.
Commenting on the recent virtual meeting between President Xi and Biden, Tehan said that:
It was very cool to see the two presidents be able to have a dialogue over the last 24 hours and significant dialogue and that's what Australia wants to be able to do with with China itself. We are looking for constructive engagement. We want to be able to work through our differences and our issues because we understand how important especially our economic relationship is and helping millions out of poverty in China has helped us maintain our standard of living so we're very much looking forward for that constructive engagement.
With regard to China's application to join the CPTPP, Tehan said that "I think [the CPTPP] is the best trade agreement in the world. So we've made it very clear that any country that wants to proceed to CPTPP would have to meet those gold standard rules." In this regard, he said that:
You have to able to sit down and work through especially on market access issues. So we would need some sort of ministerial dialogue to be able to work through that market accession. Obviously, economic coercion, trade disputes, those types would all have to be dealt with and we'd have to work through those, but also that firm commitment to those gold standard rules.
Previously, the Australian parliamentary committee held hearings (here and here) on China joining the CPTPP, during which the business community expressed a certain level of support for closer trade relations with China, contingent on the nation meeting the agreement's standards.
Australia and China signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2015. However, the two nations have had a worsening of trade relations over the past years. While Australian exports to China continued to grow in 2020, its investment from China plummeted. The two are also involved in multiple disputes (here, here and here) at the WTO over both sides' trade remedy measures.