President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the trilateral negotiations on free-trade agreements (FTA) between China, South Korea and Japan has put great pressure on Taiwan, and that he expects the nation to join the potential new free-trade zone in Northeast Asia.
“Taiwan should not be absent from the new free-trade zone in Northeast Asia, and I believe we would play an important and constructive role as we did in the regional aviation circle,” Ma said at the Presidential Office.
Ma made the remarks during a meeting with Japan’s top representative to Taiwan, Sumio Tarui. Speaking at the meeting, Ma said relations between Taiwan and Japan were at their best in more than four decades and that he expected bilateral trade to thrive over the next four years.
Citing his administration’s efforts to join the negotiations and begin direct flights from Taipei International Airport (Songshan) to Toykyo’s Haneda International Airport, Gimpo International Airport in Seoul and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai, Ma expected the nation to facilitate trade negotiations with major partners and to be part of the regional economic integration in Northeast Asia.
“Japan is the second-largest trade partner of Taiwan, and Taiwan is the fourth-largest trade partner of Japan. With such a close trade relationship, I expect the two sides to further explore negotiations on economic cooperation and I hope Japan will seriously consider signing an FTA with Taiwan,” Ma said.
The pressure on Taiwan to sign FTAs or economic pacts with major trade partners has become heavier, especially since Japan, China and South Korea agreed to start official negotiations on a trilateral free-trade pact some time this year, he said.
He also reiterated his hope of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement within eight years and said he expected to resume negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the US soon, while pledging to complete follow-up negotiations under the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).