Taiwan's 'democratic values' will be factor in CPTPP entry evaluation: US – Focus Taiwan News Channel

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Washington, Sept. 24 (CNA) Taiwan’s strong “democratic values” will become a factor in evaluating its application to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the U.S. State Department said Friday.

In an online news briefing with the New York Foreign Press Center, Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Taiwan has shown itself to be a responsible member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In addition to its record at the WTO, Price said he expected “Taiwan’s strong embrace of democratic values would factor in the CPTPP’s parties’ evaluation of Taiwan as a potential candidate for accession.”

However, Price stressed that the decision for Taiwan’s accession into the trade bloc will be made by its member states. The U.S. is not a member.

Price made the comments when he was asked for the U.S. response after both China and Taiwan submitted their own applications to join the CPTPP this month.

On Wednesday, Taiwan filed an application to join the CPTPP under the name “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu,” through its representative in New Zealand who sent the accession form to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Taiwan’s application to join the trade agreement came after the United Kingdom submitted its own application in February and just days after China did the same on Sept. 16.

China has strongly opposed Taiwan’s bid to join the CPTPP, while Japan has expressed its welcome, saying the trade bloc allows an economy, like Taiwan, to join it as an independent customs territory.

New Zealand acts as a depositary for the Pacific Rim trade pact, and will be responsible for passing the application to all member states.

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 ratification by more than half of the 11 signatories.

It replaced its predecessor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after the withdrawal of the United State in 2017 under the Donald Trump administration. The CPTPP is now led by Japan.

Price said the United States has no immediate plan to join the CPTPP, but the Biden administration is still reviewing it to evaluate its consistency with his agenda for revitalizing the country’s economy.

As for China’s move to seek CPTPP’s membership, Price said the U.S. expects China’s non-market trade practices and its use of economic coercion against other countries would serve as a factor in the evaluation by its member states of the country as a potential candidate in the trade bloc.

Meanwhile, Price reiterated the United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of the issues across the Taiwan Strait which will be consistent with the wishes and the best interest of the people on Taiwan.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan,” Price said.

After Taiwan submitted its application to seek membership of the CPTPP, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on her Facebook page the accession into the trade bloc has become an important external strategic goal for the country to achieve.

Tsai said Taiwan’s application showed it was confident enough to take such a step to extend its reach to the world.

In a recent interview with CNA, Roy Lee (李淳), deputy executive director of the Taiwan WTO and RTA Center under the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER), said the move to seek CPTPP membership is critical and necessary for Taiwan at the moment, adding that if the country failed to apply at this time, the likelihood of it ever joining the bloc would recede into the distance.

(By Ching Chin-yeh, Ozzy Yin and Frances Huang)