Taiwan has made progress in economic cooperation with major trade partners, as the nation is expected to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the near future, while an economic pact with Singapore will likely be signed by the end of the year, the nation’s envoy to APEC, Lien Chan (連戰), said yesterday.
Speaking on the issues discussed at the APEC summit, the former vice president said the US had expressed optimism about Taiwan’s participation in the TPP during his meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“As a leading nation in organizing the TPP, the US has invited Mexico, Canada and Japan to join the group. More countries should join the TPP in the second phase, and Taiwan could join the TPP by then,” Lien said at the Presidential Office.
Clinton also promised to send US officials to Taiwan and prepare to resume bilateral talks under the long-stalled Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), he said.
In another meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) at the APEC summit, Lien said Lee told him that the negotiations on the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP) is likely to be completed by the end of this year.
Taiwan and Singapore began formal talks on the ASTEP early last year after a four-month study on the feasibility of such a deal was completed.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) thanked Lien and the APEC delegation for their achievements in promoting international economic engagements and said he expected the trade talks with the US to resume as soon as possible.
“The US and Taiwan have reached a consensus on resuming negotiations under the TIFA, and we expect to start trade talks with the US on various economic issues soon,” he said.
Separately yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said Taiwan was likely to be included in the US’ visa waiver program by the end of this year.
The procedures for Taiwan to be included in the US program have largely been completed, and the US Department of Homeland Security is making a final evaluation, he said.
Lien said earlier that Clinton had told him during their meeting that homeland security was making a final assessment and would inform Taiwan.
Lien said he expected Taiwan to be granted visa-waiver status by the end of the year.