DA NANG, Vietnam (CNA) – Taiwan must speed up its policy reforms in order to be ready to join a newly proposed regional trade deal, should the opportunity present itself, a spokesman for Taiwan’s delegation to this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) summit said Saturday.

The newly proposed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a new iteration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership following the U.S.’s formal withdrawal in January, sets up a framework for regional trade and cooperation to benefit all members involved.

According to John Deng (鄧振中), key adviser and spokesman for Taiwan’s delegation to the APEC summit, Taiwan has always been interested in joining bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation programs.

It must therefore “continue to prepare, and even speed up its preparations” for CPTPP membership, he said.

These preparations would most likely include eliminating many of the barriers to trade and investment that currently exist within the country, given that the CPTPP will be seeking to promote economic growth and competitiveness through increased regional trade and collaboration, he said.

Deng noted that there was a key clause regarding membership in the CPTPP trade deal, which he said showed a willingness among its 11 potential members to allow new states to join.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said the CPTPP’s framework has looser standards for membership, compared to the original TPP, which would make it more easily accessible to Taiwan.

The key issues laid out for the CPTPP were addressed Saturday on the sidelines of the 2017 APEC summit, where the ministers representing the 11 remaining TPP countries were all in attendance because of their countries’ membership in APEC.

By Elaine Hou and Kuan-lin Liu