National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) yesterday said that he hopes Taiwan can join the second round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after the US acknowledged the nation’s determination to take part in the proposed trade bloc.
Kuan, who recently concluded a visit to the US to express Taiwan’s intention to join the TPP talks, said he gained support from US Representative Charles Boustany, co-chairman of the Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Caucus, about Taiwan’s efforts in deregulation and market planning.
He said Boustany is willing to voice his support in the US Congress for Taiwan to join the talks.
During his visit, Kuan gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a US think tank, during which he emphasized the mutually beneficial aspects of the bid to join the TPP.
US Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan Selig said during a meeting that as Taiwan ranks 16th in the World Banks’ Doing Business report, the US is open to exchanges and cooperation toward bringing regulations in line with international standards, Kuan said.
From January through September, Taiwan was the US’ 11th-largest export destination, followed by Switzerland, he said.
Kuan said he hopes the US can publicly express its support for Taiwan’s participation.
“Taiwan cannot afford to be considered a country that can never participates in any regional economic integration,” Kuan said. “The expectation will affect the investment decisions of private companies.”
The minister said that Taiwan, Russia and Papua New Guinea are the only three countries in Asia not in either the TPP or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
However, the first-round talks on the TPP have not yet ended, and new members can only join the second round with consensus support from the existing 12 members.
Among the 12 members, Taiwan signed free-trade agreements with Singapore and New Zealand, and the nation has close ties with Japan, Kuan said.
Meanwhile, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the US Department of State Kurt Tong yesterday said that the US welcomes Taiwan’s interest in joining the partnership.
“The United States welcomes Taiwan’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership at a future date. We welcome Taiwan’s interest and look forward to exploring the idea together,” Tong said at a private equity and venture forum in Taipei.
However, Tong said Taiwan needs to make preparations to join high-standard, comprehensive trade agreements such as the TPP.
Tong also urged Taiwan to seek more foreign investment in an effort to improve its competitiveness, adding that private equity is one of the most active channels of capital investment.
Tong, who arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, is scheduled to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues with Taiwanese officials during his three-day visit.
Tong is the highest official from the US Department of State to visit Taiwan.
Additional reporting by CNA
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