Taiwan was scheduled to ink a bilateral consultation agreement with Russia yesterday, pushing forward the ex-communist country's plan to become a member of the WTO.
This marks the third time that Taiwan, as a WTO member, has helped WTO aspirants to enter the global economic institution. The first two non-WTO member countries Taiwan helped were Saudi Arabia and Cambodia. It took Taiwan 12 years to win the endorsement of other WTO members before gaining accession to the international body.
Russia's total trade value last year was recorded at US$209.7 billion, making it the world's 17th most powerful trading country. Taiwan, ranked as the world's 15th most powerful trading country, had a total trade value of US$277.9 billion last year.
Because of Russia's impressive economic potential, more than 60 WTO members have asked to conduct bilateral consultations with the ex-communist country. Russia has managed to sign consultation agreements with 15 out of the 60.
Meanwhile, it is likely that US President George W. Bush will ask Chinese President Hu Jintao (
Cross-strait issues are believed to top the agenda of the bilateral meeting between the two. While Bush might ask Hu to consider Chen's offer, Hu is likely to ask the US to develop a "constructive cooperative relationship" based on the "one China" policy and the Three Communiques.
Chen called on China to establish a code of conduct across the Taiwan Strait to safeguard peace and stability during his National Day address on Oct. 10. He raised the issue again one month later.
The 21 member economies of APEC and the media are bracing themselves for the highlight of the annual event -- the two-day informal leaders' summit, or better known as the economic leaders' meeting.
The first press conference held for all leaders was slated for yesterday afternoon. Chen's special envoy Lee Yuan-tseh (
Terrorist threats and global trade talks are expected to be the main focus of the meeting. Leaders will also agree to continue to work towards global trade liberalization and facilitation.
Also see stories: