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Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday that Taiwan will have to overcome some “political problems” in its efforts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest free-trade groups.
In its CPTPP bid, Taiwan has to work with “like-minded countries and current members” of the 11-nation trade group, as there are “indeed some political problems,” Tsai said at a Central Standing Committee meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which she chairs.
Joining the CPTPP is important to Taiwan’s economy, however, and it is crucial that the Taiwanese people understand and support the process, Tsai said.
Other issues, such as Taiwan’s market openness, and technical matters can all be gradually resolved, Tsai said, according to a statement released on the DPP’s website.
Taiwan submitted an application on Sept. 22 to join the CPTPP, six days after China did so.
Taiwan’s application was submitted under the name “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu,” which it also uses as a member of the World Trade Organization.
The political challenge facing Taiwan in its CPTPP bid that Tsai mentioned is believed to be opposition from Beijing.
Also on Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) reiterated China’s opposition to Taiwan joining the CPTPP.
China opposes Taiwan’s membership in any regional trade bloc and its participation any bilateral trade agreement, because “there is only one China, which Taiwan is an inalienable part of,” Zhu said.
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 its ratification by most of the 11 signatories. Brunei, Chile and Malaysia have not yet ratified the agreement.
The economies in the CPTPP bloc account for 13.3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), worth a total of US$10.6 trillion, and cover a population of 499 million, according to the government websites of Australia and New Zealand.