Taiwan to push bid for CPTPP as it comes into force: MOFA

In this March 8, 2018 file photo, from left, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker, General Secretary Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia Y.bhg. Datuk J. Jayasiri, Canada's Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne, Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Steven Ciobo, Chile's Foreing Minister Heraldo Munoz, Brunei's Foreign Minister Haji Erawan bin Pehin Yusof, Japan's Trans-Pacific Partnership minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Secretary of Economy of Mexico Idelfonso Guajardo, Peru's Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros and Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh, poses for a pictures after the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CP TPP, in Santiago, Chile. The Pacific rim trade pact abandoned by President Donald Trump takes effect on Dec. 30 after Australia became became the sixth nation to ratify it. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will continue to demonstrate its determination to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Dec. 30 as the free trade agreement took effect.

In congratulating CPTPP members for bringing the deal to fruition, the ministry expressed hope that Taiwan could be accepted into the trade bloc along with other new members because of the deal’s importance for economic development in the region and the world.

The CPTPP came into being after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of its predecessor — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — just days after he took office in January 2017.

The other 11 TPP countries — Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — renegotiated the free trade deal and called the new version the CPTPP.

It was signed in March 2018 and entered into force on Sunday for the first six countries to ratify the agreement — Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore.

It will take effect in Vietnam, which ratified the deal in November, on Jan. 14, 2019.

The MOFA said Taiwan was happy to see the CPTPP take effect and hoped it could join once Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru complete their domestic procedures to ratify the agreement.

Once fully implemented, the 11 countries will form a trading bloc representing 495 million consumers and 13.5 percent of global GDP.

Though Taiwan has set its sights on joining the Japan-led trade bloc, the prospects for Taiwan’s bid seemed to be hurt after Taiwanese voted in favor of a referendum last month to maintain a ban on certain Japanese food imports from areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

After the vote on Nov. 24, Japanese officials hinted that it had dealt a blow to Taiwan’s chances to join.

But Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), head of the Office of Trade Negotiations, said the Japanese government has not stated its stance on the issue publicly since then as Taiwan tries to seek Japan’s understanding of the referendum. Deng said that in addition to Japan, Taiwan will also seek other members’ support for its participation in the economic bloc.

The MOFA contended that the membership of Taiwan, an important part of the global industrial chain, would help the economic bloc increase the benefits of economic and trade integration and promote growth and prosperity in the region.

Taiwan will continue to show other CPTPP members its resolve and to participate in regional economic integration and seek to join the economic bloc at an opportune time, the ministry said.

By Matt Yu, You Kai-hsiang and Evelyn Kao