Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been actively taking part in negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with only Taiwan being excluded from these talks. This further highlights Taiwan’s international isolation. Countries involved in the RCEP negotiations include the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand and the negotiations are expected to be finished in 2015. When that happens, it will form the world’s largest free trade zone.
Furthermore, the US is in charge of the TPP negotiations and it hopes the TPP can become a high-quality free-trade agreement, with 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region currently involved in negotiations. Last year, Ma proposed joining the TPP within eight years, but we have yet to see any substantial plans or progress.
In conclusion, the ECFA is just a framework agreement which to date has had relatively limited effects. How effective it will be depends on the results of the negotiations on another four areas of trade that will be conducted in future: agreements on the trade in goods, the trade in services, investment and dispute resolution.
The Ma administration should take a closer look at the nation’s strategies for global economic integration, integrate the interests and advantages of our domestic industries as soon as possible, come up with various strategies for transformation and corresponding policies. This is the only way to handle the tough challenges Taiwan faces in terms of regional economic integration.
Tung Chen-yuan is a distinguished professor in the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University.
Translated by Drew Cameron