Monday, March 8, 2021

Taiwan still trying to join trade alliances despite nerves over Beijing’s threats

Other countries fear China's displeasure when they trade with Taiwan.

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Taiwan will submit an application to join the rejigged Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) once Taipei has finished ongoing informal consultations with the remaining 11 members.

The original 12-member TPP was thrown into disarray in early 2017 when President Donald Trump withdrew the US.

In a statement late on Sunday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said that according to the rules of the new TPP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), new member applicants must complete informal talks with existing members first and “reach a consensus” before officially applying, Reuters reports.

Taiwan is engaged in these talks at the moment but is dogged by the problems that always beset it when trying to form relationships with other countries.

The democratic island is a member of the World Trade Organization and has sought greater access to other multilateral deals, but many governments are wary of signing trade agreements with Taiwan fearing objections from China, which claims the island tech-powerhouse as its own territory and is vocal about one day regaining it by hook or by crook.

Ever-hopeful, the Taipei foreign ministry said, “Preliminary informal talks are ongoing, and member countries already clearly understand our determination, and the attitude is quite positive. We will formally submit an application for membership in accordance with the procedures,” it added, without giving a timeframe.

The trade agreement was renamed the CPTPP and already links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

One potential problem for Taiwan could be a parallel application for membership from Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month his country is “actively considering” 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 either.

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