Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 13 News List

China’s support ‘needed’ for TPP

STAMP OF APPROVAL:Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng said that Taiwan cannot hope to join the TPP negotiations until Beijing gives the nation approval

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng yesterday talks to reporters in Taipei.

Photo: Huang Pei-chun, Taipei Times

Taiwan needs China’s support to join the next round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as China is the largest trading partner of six of the 12 TPP members, Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said yesterday.

“Given those TPP members’ close trading relationships with China, it is unavoidable that those countries will consider China’s stance before expressing support for Taiwan,” Deng said in an interview with UFO Radio program host Tang Hsiang-lung (唐湘龍).

With import value reaching US$200 billion to US$300 billion a year in Taiwan, “there is a chance for us to join the next round of TPP negotiations,” Deng said.

He said the degree of openness of the trade bloc is extremely high with few exceptions, and the transition period during which tariffs have to be cut to as low as zero ranges from five years to 10 years, which is generally shorter than most free-trade agreements.

Taiwan therefore needs to work harder to gain all 12 TPP members’ approval, when most of them hold a conservative view regarding Taiwan’s bid to join the regional bloc, Deng said.

“We also need China’s ‘no objection’ in this matter,” he said, adding that only when Taiwan gains approval from China and other members could the nation join the next round of negotiations.

Commenting on the US pork import issue, which has widely been seen as a key to gaining US support to join the TPP, Deng said the government will need to deal with the issue eventually.

“The government will continue to separate permits for importing beef and pork for the time being, but eventually the government has to deal with it,” Deng said. “It is just not the time yet.”

The US has said several times that Taiwan should handle food safety measures, including US beef and pork imports, in a way that is consistent with international standards and based on science.

However, domestic farmers have voiced strong opposition to US pork imports, questioning the safety of the meat and saying they are worried about the impact imports would have on their business.

US Deputy Trade Representative Robert Holleyman on Oct. 1 told a news conference in Taipei that he cannot speculate whether the pork issue would affect Taiwan’s bid to join the TPP negotiations, but the issue does complicate the ongoing discussions about a bilateral investment agreement between Taiwan and the US.

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