| 28 February 2024, Wednesday |

Taiwan, wanting to join Pacific trade pact, questions China’s ‘sudden’ application

China’s “sudden” decision to seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) concerned Taiwan’s Finance Minister on Friday, but he voiced hope that it would not impede the island’s application.

In a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor, China requested to join the free trade pact.

China’s application was “sudden,” Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters in Taipei.

Many of China’s recent practices, such as import bans “without justification,” ran against to free-market principles and lacked transparency, she added, and China may not be able to meet the CPTPP’s “high criteria.”

“They also have friction with some CPTPP member states,” she said.

Taiwan has been making its own preparations to join the CPTPP and believes it will happen when conditions are right, Wang added.

“We will pay close attention to member countries’ reaction to China’s application and hope it does not affect our application to join.”

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and will not be pleased if Taipei is allowed to join the grouping before it.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was and seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.

But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew.

Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam are all part of the CPTPP.

Britain is also interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and negotiations began in June.

Because China insists that Taiwan is part of “one-China” rather than a separate country, it is barred from several international organizations.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is a member of the WTO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization.

Taiwan has been heartened by recent progress towards trade agreements with the United States and the European Union, which are both frustrated with China’s lack of progress in opening its economy and are keen to show their support for Taiwan’s democracy and much freer market policies.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao Editing by Robert Birsel

  • Reuters