Canada, Taiwan mull launching official FIPA talks: Canadian envoy – Focus Taiwan

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Taipei, Dec. 14 (CNA) Canada and Taiwan could soon decide whether to launch official negotiations on the signing of a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (FIPA), the nation’s top representative to Taiwan said Wednesday.

Jim Nickel, the new executive director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), said the two sides began lengthy exploratory talks earlier this year on FIPA which concluded in June.

The Taiwanese and Canadian sides are currently studying preparation for official negotiations to go ahead, he said.

Both parties have done good work and there were some positive developments over the past months. “So I think, we should be coming to the decision point,” he added.

A decision will be taken in the coming weeks but as the Christmas season is almost here, there remains uncertainty as to whether it will be this year or early 2023, according to Nickel.

FIPA ensures investors have full confidence that their investments are secure and protected by the respective courts and/or governments in the places they invest and once signed will encourage greater two-way investment, Nickel said.

He made the remarks during a press event in Taipei when asked to comment on Canadian media reports last month quoting Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, as saying that Ottawa would soon decide whether to officially launch FIPA talks with Taiwan.

Meanwhile, when asked about Canada’s stance on Taiwan’s bid to join a Tokyo-led trade bloc in which Canada is a member during the same event, Nickel said it is too early to say as Taiwan’s application has not yet been examined.

Aspiring members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have to meet the highest standards and have a track record of complying and adhering to trade agreements in the past and also be willing to join the agreement, he said.

However, Nickel praised the Taiwanese side for doing a lot of work that most involved parties are quite happy with and for being forthcoming in stating its goal to become a CPTPP member.

CPTPP 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.

For a new member to join the CPTPP, all 11 signatories — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — must approve the application.

Taiwan applied to join the CPTPP on Sept. 22 last year, less than a week after China submitted its application.

Wednesday’s press event was held to introduce Canada’s recently published Indo-Pacific Strategy and Taiwan’s role in it.

In its first Indo-Pacific Strategy published on Nov. 27, the Canadian government states that “China is an increasingly disruptive global power.” It also emphasizes that Canada will balance its approach to China with diversified investments in regional relationships, including working with Indo-Pacific partners to push back against any unilateral actions that threaten the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the East and South China Seas.

The document refers to Taiwan multiple times, pointing out that Canada will continue its multifaceted engagement with Taiwan, including deepening cooperation in trade, technology, supply chains, health, democratic governance, and countering disinformation.

Furthermore, it states that Canada will continue to foster economic and people-to-people ties with Taiwan while supporting Taiwan’s resilience.

Wednesday’s press event was also Nickel’s first since taking over as head of the CTOT, the de facto Canadian embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, on Sept. 20.

A seasoned Foreign Service officer, Nickel most recently served as deputy head of mission at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, a post he had held since August 2018.

Nickel has also has worked at Canada’s missions in Japan, Indonesia and India. Before joining the Department of External Affairs in 1991, he taught English in China from 1987 to 1989.