Factionalism must bow to TPP bid: top US envoy

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States yesterday called for lawmakers in both parties to push for Taiwan’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral free trade agreement that would liberalize economies in the region. Fielding questions during a legislative session yesterday in Taipei, King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) said yesterday that the ruling and opposition parties should put aside disagreements to join hands in making preparations to join U.S.-backed regional economic integration efforts. “The U.S. side’s attitude to Taiwan’s possible inclusion in the TPP is very clear: both private and public sectors in Taiwan should further loosen trade barriers in preparation (for joining the TPP),” King noted. The Taiwanese government has on many occasions urged its U.S. counterpart to support its bid to join the TPP, which is currently under negotiation among 12 Pacific Rim countries. In his New Year’s Day address, President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated that his administration will work toward gaining membership in the TPP. According to its plan, the Cabinet aims to complete preparations for joining the TPP by July.

Task Force Formed to Push TPP King said yesterday that ever since he took office as Taiwan’s top envoy to the U.S. in December 2012, Taiwan’s bid to join the TPP has been his office’s top priority. A special task force established by his office in Washington has so far held over a dozen meetings to push Taiwan’s accession to the TPP. King made the comments when fielding questions at the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee yesterday. The committee originally asked the envoy to report on Taiwan-U.S. relations and field questions at the Legislature on Dec. 23, 2013. However, King rejected the proposal, citing a “tight schedule.” The decision elicited protests from Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), convener of the committee, who accused the envoy of contempt of the Legislature.