Taiwan asks to join U.S.-led WTO consultations with China

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein/Susan Walsh)

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Taiwan has asked to join, as a third party, a complaint by the United States against China filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over alleged intellectual property theft, according to a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative filed a complaint on March 23 against China, requesting consultations at the WTO for what it said were Chinese violations of the international organization’s rules on patent rights and licensing.

According to the WTO’s rules, this gave member countries that have a substantial interest in the matter a 10-day period to notify the organization that it would like to participate in the consultations as a third party.

As of the April 5 deadline, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and the European Union all requested to participate as a third party, said the MOEA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said Taiwan’s participation, which is currently pending approval, will allow it to witness the proceedings up close and hear firsthand information about any development that could affect the country.

WTO rules also allow third parties participating in the consultations during the panel stage to voice their views on the matter both in writing and orally.

Another source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNA that Taiwan may also request to join China’s recently launched complaint against the U.S. over its proposed tariffs on Chinese goods.

The source said that given the impact these tariffs could have on Taiwanese goods and businesses, Taiwan has not dismissed the idea of joining in on the complaint as a third party.

China filed the complaint on April 4, giving countries who want to join as third parties a deadline of April 14.

Currently, no country has signed on to be a third party.

Either party involved in the consultations can reject the request of countries to join as a third party member.

Many international media outlets have called these requests for consultations steps toward avoiding a full-blown trade war between the United States and China.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Kuan-lin Liu)