Fri, Nov 09, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan upbeat on WTO accession

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN QATAR

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) was upbeat yesterday that Taiwan's bid to enter the WTO would come off without a hitch at the organization's meeting in Qatar this weekend after WTO officials made it clear that body will not permit China to sign its entry documents until Taiwan's accession package has been accepted by the ministerial meeting.

The decision has literally bar-red Beijing from making any attempts to obstruct Taiwan's bid.

"We won't lose," said Lin, who arrived in Doha, Qatar yesterday one day before the beginning of the WTO's fourth ministerial meeting.

China's accession application is expected to be approved tomorrow, one day ahead of Taiwan's, with the formal signing ceremony by Beijing officials coming on Sunday.

Taiwan's accession package is expected to be approved on Sunday, with its formal signing ceremony on Monday.

China's signing on Sunday will not be allowed to take place, how-ever, until Taiwan's entry has been approved.

Lin said however that while he was confident Taiwan's accession would proceed smoothly, he was still prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Expecting China to cause trouble, Lin has said he will wait until the last minute before ruling out the use of the exclusionary clause under the WTO agreement that would keep Beijing at arms length once they join.

The clause, known officially as Article 13, would exclude China from the free trade benefits Taiwan must offer all the 142-other members.

While relatively powerless as a non-member to directly obstruct Taiwan's membership, China has consistently pushed for Taiwan to be labeled officially as a separate customs territory under Chinese sovereignty when drafting its own accession documents.

It has also reportedly considered pressuring some of its closer allies who are already in the WTO, such as Pakistan, to formally oppose Taiwan's entry.

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