Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ma picks Siew as his APEC envoy

Staff writer, with CNA

Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) will meet with Asia-Pacific economic leaders in Indonesia next month to discuss regional trade and economic integration, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

The dialogue will be held in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 7, the opening day of an economic leaders’ meeting of the APEC forum, said Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), head of the ministry’s Department of International Organizations.

Siew and his counterparts from Australia, Brunei and Mexico will discuss the progress of economic development and integration in the region, Hsieh said.

Accompanied by Cathay Financial Holdings chairman Tsai Hong-tu (蔡宏圖), a Taiwanese member of the APEC Business Advisory Council, Siew will also hold talks on the same topics with regional business leaders on the council, Hsieh said.

If US President Barack Obama attends the APEC forum during his visit to Asia next month, as planned, there is a possibility that Siew would meet him, Hsieh said.

This is the first time Siew has been appointed to represent President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at the annual summit, replacing former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), who had been Ma’s proxy in previous years.

Siew will lead a delegation of 90 officials and academics to the APEC meetings this year. Also on Oct. 7, economic leaders will gather for a closed-door meeting on sustainable growth in the region, to discuss food, water resources and energy security and how to strengthen multilateral trade, Hsieh said.

Taiwan has been seeking integration with other regional economies by pushing for economic cooperation pacts with China, New Zealand and Singapore.

Taiwan has also been working to liberalize trade in a bid to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) multinational free-trade bloc.

Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) said yesterday that its annual “doorknock” mission to Washington last week found improved prospects for Taiwan to join the TPP.

“In general, we found a much more positive atmosphere toward Taiwan this time compared to the past few years,” said AmCham chairman Alan Eusden, who led a 20-member delegation on “doorknock” visits to government offices and think tanks in Washington from Sept. 9 to Friday last week.

“The fact that the dispute over US beef imports has been largely resolved and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement process rejuvenated has made a big difference in attitudes toward Taiwan,” Eusden said in a statement.

Taiwan has been hoping to join the TPP and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which it believes will lead to its inclusion in regional economic integration.

Despite a more positive atmosphere, it would require much more work for Taiwan to enter the TPP, AmCham said.

Taiwan’s entry to the TPP is a “realistic possibility, but only if Taiwan starts now to significantly demonstrate its willingness to liberalize its trade and investment regime,” AmCham said, citing most of the sources it contacted in Washington.

“They noted that Taiwan’s political isolation, while not a barrier in itself to TPP entry, means that this country will need to work harder to present a convincing case to the existing members, who will have to agree unanimously to admit any additional negotiating parties in future rounds,” AmCham said.

AmCham said TPP negotiations among the current 12 participating countries are making good progress and the first round of negotiations is likely to be completed by the end of this year or early next year.

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