Taiwan applies to join CPTPP trade pact: official news agency – Nikkei Asia

Credit: Original article can be found here

TAIPEI — Taiwan has formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the official Central News Agency and other outlets reported Wednesday, in a move expected to trigger opposition from China.

Taiwanese authorities have already submitted the application to New Zealand, which acts as the depositary for the Pacific rim trade pact. An official announcement is expected on Thursday.

The move comes less than a week after China last Thursday applied for membership in the CPTPP, which sets rules for tariff-free trade and investment and data flows.

In order to join the bloc, Taiwan will need approval from all 11 of its existing members, which include Japan and Australia. The island already has bilateral free trade deals with New Zealand and Singapore, another CPTPP member.

Securing membership in the CPTPP has been a goal for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has chosen not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a China-led regional trade pact that also includes Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Tsai is also eager to negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.S.

The move to join the CPTPP could also face pushback at home. Taiwan has banned food imports from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and four nearby regions since the nuclear disaster there in 2011. The Taiwanese public opposes restarting this trade, and Tsai for years has been reluctant to tackle the issue.

The CPTPP’s other members are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam. The U.K. has begun negotiations to join the framework as well.