Taiwan boosting ASEAN relations to join RCEP pact

VAST MARKET::The RCEP will comprise ASEAN and all its free-trade partners. Taiwan is boosting ties with Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar and looking to form trading firms

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - Page 13

Taiwan is preparing to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by enhancing bilateral relationships with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the Bureau of Foreign Trade said yesterday.

RCEP is a trade agreement proposed by regional leaders at the ASEAN summit in November last year. Total production of the proposed RCEP’s members — ASEAN countries and their free-trade agreement (FTA) partners — is about US$19.9 trillion a year, accounting for 28.52 percent of total global production.

“We plan to establish stronger ties with RCEP members to increase our chances of joining the organization,” Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Chang Chun-fu (張俊福) said at a press conference, adding that local businesses have expressed strong interest in Cambodia, and have connections in Laos and Myanmar.

RCEP has the potential to become the largest free-trade area of the world, with talks on the RCEP set to begin this year and to be completed by 2015, the bureau said.

Taiwan’s exports to ASEAN countries totaled US$55.72 billion last year, up 9.8 percent from US$50.74 billion a year ago. The figure accounted for 18.5 percent of the nation’s total exports last year, making ASEAN the second-largest export market for Taiwan, the latest government statistics showed.

The bureau aims to increase the nation’s total exports by 5.5 percent year-on-year this year. Chang said helping businesses form big trading companies as intermediary agents to promote exports could help achieve that.

Big trading companies in Japan and South Korea are formed by business conglomerates with subsidiary companies in many industries, providing sufficient resources in terms of finance and other services, Chang said. In Taiwan, the only successful example of a big trading company is in the semiconductor industry, he said, adding that in Taiwan, it is more viable to form specialized trading companies dedicated to specific industries.

Meanwhile, the bureau said Taiwanese businesses were involved in 26 anti-dumping cases last year, while on average, Taiwanese businesses were involved in only 8.5 cases a year from 2008 to 2011.

Based on WTO data, from July 2011 through June last year, 200 anti-dumping cases were reported around the world, up 18.3 percent from 169 cases a year ago.

Last year, there were six anti-dumping investigations concerning Taiwanese businesses in Brazil, with Europe, Turkey and Malaysia each having three cases. Indonesia, Australia and India each have two cases against Taiwanese businesses, while Thailand, the US, Argentina, Canada and Pakistan each have one case.

Of the 26 cases, 14 were related to the steel industry, three were related to rubber and plastic products, two cases concerned textile products and one concerned chemical products.