Taiwan says it's on track to apply to join trans-Pacific trade pact

Taiwan says it's on track to apply to join trans-Pacific trade pact

FILE PHOTO: A Evergreen Marine container ship is seen at Kaohsiung Port
FILE PHOTO: A Evergreen Marine container ship is seen at Kaohsiung Port, Taiwan August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

TAIPEI: Taiwan will submit an application to join the revamped version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership once it has finished informal consultations with its existing 11 members, talks which are ongoing, the island's foreign ministry said.

While a member of the World Trade Organization, many countries are wary of signing trade deals with Taiwan fearing objections from China, which claims the democratic island as its own territory, and Taiwan has sought greater access to multilateral deals.

Tech-powerhouse Taiwan has been angling to join the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), signed in 2018.

READ: Japan aims to expand CPTPP trade pact as UK, China eye membership

READ: Taiwan says trade deal would show US support in face of China pressure

In a statement late on Sunday, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said that according to the processes of the CPTPP, new member applicants needed to complete informal talks with existing members first and "reach a consensus" before applying.

Those talks are ongoing, and member countries "already clearly understand our determination and steps to seeking membership, and the attitude is quite positive", the ministry said in a statement.

"Once the informal consultation with all member states is completed, we will formally submit an application for membership in accordance with the procedures," it added, without giving a timeframe.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when US President Donald Trump withdrew.

It was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Commentary: Is it too late for the US to join the CPTPP?

One potential problem for Taiwan could be a parallel application for membership from China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month his country would "actively consider" signing up for the CPTPP.

Xi's comments came less than a week after China and 14 other Asia-Pacific economies signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Hanoi to form the world's largest free-trade bloc.

Taiwan is not a member of that group.

Source: Reuters

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