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Taiwan focusing on regional trade links as U.S. withdraws from TPP

2017/01/24 15:30:05

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Taiwan's government said Tuesday that it will continue to strengthen economic links with other countries in the Asia Pacific region after the United States formally pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday, scrapping the U.S.' flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific Rim.

Following that move, Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tuesday that the government will continue its efforts to expand bilateral economic and trade relations with countries in the region and actively participate in regional economic cooperation.

Taiwan's current economic development goals are to complete the upgrade and transformation of its economic structure and formulate an economic and trade strategy in the next phase, Huang said.

To that end, the government is promoting a "five plus two" development strategy and building economic links and cooperation with other economies in the region, he said.

The "five plus two" approach refers to the development of green energy technology, an Asian Silicon Valley, biomedicine, intelligent machinery, national defense and aerospace, plus a new agricultural paradigm and a circular economy.

Huang said the government will keep a close watch on the new U.S. administration's economic and trade policies.

Meanwhile, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that Taiwan will continue its talks with the U.S. under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on ways to strengthen economic and trade relations. Taiwan will also work to relax the relevant regulations in order to establish free trade agreements with the U.S. and other countries, he said.

Vice Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) also said that the government will continue to push for bilateral investment deals and free trade agreements with the U.S. and countries in the Asian region.

With the U.S.' withdrawal from the TPP, the impact of the trade deal would be diminished, according to National Development Council Deputy Minister Kao Shien-quey (高仙桂).

She said the U.S. is now more likely to seek major bilateral trade agreements than to participate in any efforts at multilateral regional economic integration.

With the U.S. pulling out of the TPP, global economic and trade relations can be expected to undergo significant changes, Kao said, noting that negotiations are in progress on a China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

To avoid being marginalized amid regional economic integration, Taiwan should seek to establish bilateral trade deals with other countries, she said.

Sun Ming-te (孫明德), director of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research's Economic Forecast Center, also suggested that Taipei resume negotiations with Washington on a bilateral trade deal, sign trade-in- goods agreements with regional economies to reduce tariffs on exports, and promote its strategic location with the implementation of its New Southbound Policy.

The New Southbound Policy seeks to develop broad relations with ASEAN, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand, while promoting regional exchanges and collaboration.

(By Chen Cheng-wei, Hau Hsueh-chin and Evelyn Kao)
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