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TRADE DEALS/Taiwan calls on CPTPP to devise detailed accession guidelines

03/26/2024 04:17 PM
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The lobby of the foreign ministry in Taipei. CNA file photo
The lobby of the foreign ministry in Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) A Taiwanese diplomat on Tuesday called on existing members of a regional trade bloc to come up with detailed step-by-step guidelines for aspiring members, including Taiwan, on how to gain entry into the organization.

Taiwan officially applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Sept. 22, 2021, less than a week after China also applied for membership, but has made little headway on its bid since then.

Lien Yu-ping (連玉蘋), head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, said that 2024 could be beneficial for Taiwan's bid because Canada is the rotating CPTPP chair this year.

She said that will offer a "window of opportunity" for Taiwan's potential accession because of the democratic values shared by Canada and Taiwan and their robust trade and economic ties.

Taiwan also has done its best to engage in informal talks with the CPTPP's 11 members, Lien said, as is suggested in Article 2.2 of the existing CPTPP Accession Process, which outlines the process applicants need to follow to gain membership.

The article says: "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."

The article also noted that such consultations do not "constitute a negotiation process," however, and Lien said that more detailed step-by-step procedures for aspirant members to follow do not exist.

Lien believed that the official Accession Process guidelines are not detailed enough, and the CPTPP's "Auckland Principles," which provide three main principles for applicants to meet, are also vague, she said.

Those principles ask that potential members be prepared to undertake the high quality, high standards embedded in the CPTPP, have demonstrated success in upholding the trade commitments of past agreements; and are likely to achieve consensus among current members for the creation of a Working Party, according to Lien.

She therefore called on CPTPP members to come up with a more detailed list of steps and standards for Taiwan and other applicants to follow to facilitate their CPTPP inclusion.

To date, Lien said, Taiwan has engaged in direct dialogue with key opinion leaders in CPTPP member states considered to be more open to Taiwan's inclusion, including Japan and Canada.

It has also held exchanges with other CPTPP members seen as less open to Taiwan's inclusion through business chambers, think tanks, and academic and business representatives to help build up a more pro-Taiwan atmosphere, she said, without naming which CPTPP members fall into this category.

The CPTPP, which grew out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the United States 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 is expected to formally join by the end of 2024.

Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Ukraine have also applied to join the trade bloc.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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