One of former Vice President Lien Chan's missions at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will be to discuss with the U.S. the resumption of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and convey Taiwan's wish to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Lien will attend the summit in Russia Sept.8-9 as President Ma Ying-jeou's proxy.
The Taiwan government's resolution to join regional trade blocs is a step in the right direction, but the administration needs to be more active in laying the groundwork for such a move.
Participation in regional trade alliances means wider opening of the domestic market. For example, when Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization, the U.S. insisted that Taiwan open 5 percent of its agricultural market to all member countries.
The relevant government agencies should start researching which items should be allowed in from the U.S. and TPP member countries and the possible impact on the local agricultural sector and other industries. At the same time, the government should devise response measures.
The TPP, which is expected to become the world's largest regional economic bloc, is a highly liberalized multilateral free trade agreement. To join the TPP, Taiwan will face the challenge of further market liberalization. Some of the issues it will have to deal with include whether to allow foreign telecommunication business to operate here and whether foreign lawyers and doctors should be permitted to practice in Taiwan.
To prepare for TIFA talks and to create the conditions to help Taiwan gain entry to the TPP, all the relevant agencies should begin comprehensive studies and start discussions with local citizens and groups to gain the public's support. (Editorial abstract -- Sept. 2, 2012).
(By Jamie Wang)