Nation ‘needs to prepare’ for TPP expansion to ASEAN


TAIPEI–Taiwan needs to be ready if all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the country’s economic affairs minister said Monday.

ASEAN has been Taiwan’s important trade market and investment destination, but if more ASEAN members join the TPP, “it is hard to tell in the short term if this will hurt Taiwan,” Economics Minister John Deng told the press Monday.

The main issue, he said, is “whether we are ready” to face the possible impact resulted from an increase in ASEAN participation in the TPP, Deng said in response to reporters’ questions about a planned meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of the ASEAN Economic Community in California on Feb. 15 and 16.

It will be the first time the leaders of all 10 ASEAN members visit the United States for such a meeting.

Foreign news reports said Obama is expected to call for more ASEAN members to join the TPP, which was announced on Oct. 5 after negotiations on the trade bloc were formally concluded.

Among the ASEAN countries, only Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei are TPP members, but the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia have also expressed interest in joining the regional free trade bloc, the reports said.

In 2014, trade between Taiwan and ASEAN reached US$93.6 billion, accounting for 16 percent of Taiwan’s total foreign trade, according to Bureau of Foreign Trade statistics, making it Taiwan’s second largest trade partner and second largest export market.