Taiwan must join TPP and RECP in 2014: President Ma

By Joy Lee , The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday said that Taiwan must work hard to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) this year to avoid being marginalized in the world.

Paul D. Wolfowitz, Chairman of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, visited Ma in the Office of the President yesterday afternoon to discuss the development of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.

Ma said that this year is a key year for Taiwan to get involved in the regional economic integration of TPP and RECP.

“The trade volume between Taiwan and the 12 countries in TPP accounts for 36 percent while the trade volume between Taiwan and the RCEP’s 16 countries is about 57 percent,” said Ma.

“If we do not join either TPP or RCEP, Taiwan will be marginalized in the regional integration process that is taking place now,” said Ma.

According to Ma, the fact that Taiwan signed a free-trade agreement with New Zealand last July and another free trade agreement with Singapore last November were preparations for the work needed to join TPP.

“Even though the service trade pact with mainland China that was signed last June is still being debated in the Legislative Yuan, it is a very important step that Taiwan has to make in the process of joining regional economic integration,” said Ma. Meanwhile, Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said that the goal for this year will be to sign at least one free-trade agreement with a country, but he asked the public to wait to see which country it will be.

“No one can which country will be the next one to sign the free-trade agreement with Taiwan,” said Chang. “And it will take the ministry more time and effort before we can be more certain about which country it will be.”