By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Legislative Yuan’s delay in passing a cross-strait agreement on trade in services has little affect on Taiwan’s bid to join a regional trade bloc, a visiting U.S official said yesterday. “We (the U.S. government) certainly do not see any direct link between the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” Robert Wang, a visiting U.S. senior official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), told local media yesterday during a press event in Taipei. Whether or not Taiwan is willing to opening up to China is not seen as a must or criteria for the U.S. to consider accepting Taiwan as TPP member, he added. “We will evaluate anyone who is interested in joining the TPP based on TPP requirement standards,” Wang noted. The U.S. official added that the cross-strait service agreement is “something for Taiwanese people and its government to decide whether it benefits Taiwan or not.”
Wang made the remarks when asked to comment if the delay of passage of the pact will affect Taiwan’s bid to join the partnership. Over the past months, government officials including President Ma Ying-jeou have repeatedly said that that the Legislature’s failure to pass the agreement on trade in services, signed last June, is hurting Taiwan’s efforts to join regional trade blocs such as the TPP. Led by the U.S, the TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement being negotiated among the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Wang is visiting Taiwan to participate in an APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting.
During his five-day trip, he also met with Taiwan officials, including President Ma, Foreign Minister David Lin and business leaders to discuss APEC-related issues and bilateral trade and investment cooperation. Taiwan Conducts Reforms to Join TPP A former deputy head for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 2006 to 2009, Wang said yesterday that during his latest visit to Taiwan, he has found that the Taiwan government has recently decided to launch a series of economic reforms to prepare Taiwan to join regional economic integration, as would be the case with the TPP. Calling these moves “encouraging,” Wang said such structural reforms are aimed at reducing the number of regulations that are not necessary or too old and restrictive to innovation with the ultimate goal of allowing more energy and efficiency for business. The U.S. official also noted that Taiwan could use bilateral trade talks with the U.S. to show its determination to become a more open and liberal economy and to make preparations to enter the regional economic bloc.