Taiwan objects post-Brexit WTO services trade proposals

The EU flags wave next to the statue of King George V in Westminster, London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's divorce deal with the European Union on Tuesday, plunging the Brexit process into chaos and triggering a no-confidence vote that could topple her government. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan has stated its objections to the United Kingdom’s proposed rules for managing its trade in services after it leaves the European Union (EU) and is seeking negotiations on the issue at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Taiwan’s top trade negotiator said on Jan. 17.

Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), head of the Office of Trade Negotiations, told CNA that Taiwan submitted its objections earlier this week to the WTO Secretariat after it saw the U.K.’s proposals for dealing with its trading partners in goods and services post-Brexit.

According to a Reuters report on Wednesday, Britain formally submitted its proposed new trade in services schedule to the WTO last month and since then, Taiwan has circulated a document to other WTO members, raising objections to some parts of the U.K.’s proposed rules.

Asked to comment on the issue, Deng told CNA that in the U.K.’s proposal, it was stated that any member of the WTO that wished to make objections should do so at this stage. “We do have some concerns and suggestions regarding the U.K.’s proposals and we have expressed those concerns in the form of a paper sent to the WTO Secretariat,” he said.

This ensures that Taiwan would have the right to negotiate on clauses in the proposal that may affect its interests, Deng said. He said one of the areas of concern is that in some sections of Britain’s draft schedule for trade in service, the “EU” has been replaced by the “U.K.,” which would mean reduced market access for Taiwan.

Deng said some other WTO members that have close trade ties with the U.K. also share similar concerns.

In a referendum in 2016, the U.K. voted to leave the EU, which had represented Britain at the WTO since the founding of the trade body in 1995. With Brexit looming, however, the U.K. now needs to set out its own WTO schedules for how it will treat its trading partners when it quits the EU.

By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh