Taiwan submits application to join CPTPP trade deal

09/22/2021 10:03 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

(Story was updated on Sept. 23 to inlcude Trade Representative John Deng's comments)

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Taiwan has formally submitted its application to join one of the world's biggest free-trade groups, the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said on Wednesday.

Details about the application will be explained by Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), and Taiwan's Trade Representative -- Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) -- in a news conference scheduled on Thursday morning, according to Chen.

Taiwan's application to join the trade agreement followed that made by the United Kingdom in February and China on Sept. 16.

Asked to comment Thursday, Deng admitted that it will pose a major obstacle for Taiwan to join the trade bloc if Beijing joins it first.

But Taiwan believes all CPTPP member states will review each application case by case, Deng said.

After submitting its application, Taiwan will begin accession talks with all 11 CPTPP members to seek their support and to learn about their most pressing concerns, he said.

The biggest challenge facing Taiwan, he said, will be lifting the restrictions on Japanese food imports, which were put in place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. 

Wang told CNA on Sept. 17 that Taiwan has been negotiating unofficially with the CPTPP's member countries on joining the trade agreement and had reviewed its laws, some of which will be amended in line with the requirements under the deal.

The trade agreement evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which collapsed after the former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States' participation after he was elected in 2016.

The CPTPP free trade deal was signed in March 2018 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and went into effect at the end of that year, following the ratification of more than half of the 11 signatories.

Of the 11 countries, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia had not ratified the agreement as of the end of July, according to the ministry.

The economies included in the CPTPP account for 13.3 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) -- worth a total of US$10.6 trillion -- and cover a population of 499 million, according to the government websites of Australia and New Zealand on the trade deal.

That makes the CPTPP one of the world's largest free-trade areas by GDP, along with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the European Single Market, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

(By Liang Pei-chi and Kay Liu)

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