The Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said yesterday that it would seek to join the second round of talks for the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
CEPD Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said the first round of talks among 12 nations ranging from Singapore to Chile are expected to end this quarter and he expects a second round to mitigate disagreements toward the US-led TPP.
Kuan made the remark at a seminar in Taipei to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of former premier Yu Kuo-hwa (俞國華).
He said the TPP talks have involved a wider range of topics than traditional trade negotiations, including environmental protection and intellectual property rights.
Taiwan has yet to be invited to join the bloc, but if it were invited to participate in the second round of negotiations, its readiness to ease regulations and meet international standards would be crucial, he said.
“The entire society needs to immediately reach a consensus on how much we are willing to open up,” he said.
If Taiwan fails to join the TPP, it will become more dependent on China, which will jeopardize its strategic interests, Kuan said.
The government will also seek opportunities to join the talks of the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), but that group will not accept new members before next year, he said.
In the meantime, the government will initiate bilateral talks with members of both trade agreements and important players in the pacts, such as Indonesia, he said.
The government will also try to become a partner to the ASEAN, a major player in regional economic integration, Kuan said.
Exports to RCEP members accounted for 58 percent of total exports last year, while exports to what will become the TPP accounted for 32 percent, he said.
Joining trade pacts will not only help increase exports, but investment in the country as well, adding that it is crucial for Taiwan to regain growth momentum, he said.
The nation’s growth of trade volume in the 1990s was close to South Korea’s, but while Taiwan maintained the same growth momentum after 2000, South Korea expanded faster, Kuan said.