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TRADE DEALS/Taiwan outlines CPTPP accession plan for 2024 'window of opportunity'

11/13/2023 12:53 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) A senior Taiwanese diplomat on Monday told lawmakers that 2024 offers a "window of opportunity" for Taiwan's potential accession to a regional trade bloc because Taiwan-friendly Canada will be the rotating chair next year.

During a Legislative session in Taipei, Lien Yu-ping (連玉蘋), head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, said Canada's upcoming chairmanship of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) creates an opportunity for Taiwan to gain accession to the trade bloc.

To take advantage of the opportunity, MOFA has laid out an action plan, which includes forming unofficial dialogue channels with existing CPTPP members before the official establishment of an accession working group is formed, according to Lien.

Article 2.2 of the CPTPP Accession Progress stipulates that "for the purpose of smoothly carrying out subsequent Commission and Accession Working Group discussions, the aspirant economy is encouraged to have consultations with each Party, with a view to addressing each Party's questions or concerns on interested areas. These consultations will not constitute a negotiation process."

Regarding its action plan, Lien added that Taiwan will engage in direct dialogue with key opinion leaders in several CPTPP member states that are considered to be more open to Taiwan's inclusion, including Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

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For those members that are considered less Taiwan-friendly, Lien said Taiwan will instead conduct exchanges through business chambers, think tanks, and academic and business representatives to help build up a more pro-Taiwan atmosphere.

Lien, however, did not name the CPTPP members that are considered less Taiwan-friendly.

The MOFA official made the remarks when asked to comment on the department's plan to push for Taiwan's CPTPP accession after opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) pointed out that more than US$2.1 million had been spent in the bid for Taiwan's inclusion in the bloc, but that little progress appeared to have been made.

The CPTPP, which grew out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the U.S. left in January 2017, is one of the world's biggest trade blocs, representing a market of 500 million people and accounting for 13.5 percent of global trade.

Its 11 signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The United Kingdom formally signed the trade agreement on July 16, 2023 and will join when its accession has been ratified by all parties.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's application to join the CPTPP was made on Sept. 22, 2021, less than a week after China also applied for membership, suggesting a rush by Taipei in response to Beijing's bid.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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