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TAIPEI, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Trade-dependent Taiwan has made
“relatively” good progress towards joining the revamped version
of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but it is awaiting clearer
rules on membership, the island’s chief trade negotiator said on
While a member of the World Trade Organization, many
countries are wary of signing trade deals with Taiwan fearing
objections from China, which claims the democratic island as its
own territory, and Taiwan has sought greater access to
Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies formed the world’s largest
free trade bloc on Sunday, the China-backed Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which does not
include the United States or Taiwan.
Tech-powerhouse Taiwan has instead been angling to join the
11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for
Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), signed in 2018, again without
the United States.
Taiwan minister without portfolio John Deng, who leads trade
talks, told reporters they had expressed willingness to join the
“Countries that have made relatively good progress (in
applying for membership) include Britain, Taiwan and Thailand,
and Taiwan’s hard work has been welcomed by many,” Deng said.
“They hope for us to stay in touch,” he said, adding that
Taiwan is waiting for the CPTPP grouping to make “clearer rules”
about membership application.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when U.S.
President Donald Trump withdrew.
It was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement
for Trans-Pacific Partnership and links Canada, Australia,
Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,
Singapore and Vietnam.
Taiwan has played down the impact of RCEP on its economy,
saying that 70% of its exports to RCEP member countries, mostly
electronic products, are already tariff free.
Taiwan hopes eventually to sign a free trade deal with the
United States, its main arms seller and most important
international backer, and the two will hold high-level economic
talks at the end of this week.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee
Writing by Ben Blanchard
Editing by Robert Birsel)
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