The US government should “take up the cause” of Taiwan’s membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new study by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation says.
“Taiwan’s continued political relevance and de facto autonomy is [sic] in part contingent upon its economic vitality and broad integration into the regional and global economies,” said Olivia Enos, a researcher at the foundation’s Asia Studies Center.
The study comes as the 18th round of TPP free-trade negotiations opens this week in Malaysia.
If Japan joins the group — as now seems likely — TPP members would account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about a third of all world trade.
“Key analysts echo the sentiment that the best way for Taiwan to diversify its markets and improve competitiveness in the region is to join TPP trade negotiations,” Enos said.
She says officials in the US government are in favor of Taiwan’s inclusion in the partnership.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman said recently that the TPP was open to all APEC economies, including Taiwan.
The nation had only to establish its readiness “to meet the high standards of the agreement” Froman said.
Heritage economist Derek Scissors said that if Taiwan decides to join TPP negotiations soon, it could get in on the ground floor of the resulting economic integration and increase its trade.
However, it could get squeezed out of the growing Asian trade market if it forgoes the TPP, Scissors said.
“It is not a question of whether Taiwan is ready — especially since Vietnam and Peru are already a part of negotiations — but whether Taiwan is willing to join,” Scissors said.
Enos noted that Taiwan is a member of APEC and has opened up its market even more to top trade partner China.
“The recent signings of the [South] Korea-US and European-[South] Korea free-trade agreements as well as the negotiation of the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, signals growing competition for Taiwan in the region,” Enos said.
“The TPP would help Taiwan keep pace with its regional competitors by expanding its markets beyond dependence on China,” she said.
“There seems to be agreement all round that it is time for Taiwan to move forward with the TPP,” Enos said.