The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has not been told by the US that Taiwan may become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the end of next year as a Japanese newspaper reported, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.
The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun quoted an unnamed White House official as saying on Monday that Taiwan may join the TPP by then at the earliest.
The Nikkei said the US and Taiwan have quietly discussed having Taipei join the TPP during bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform since both side resumed negotiations last year.
US President Barack Obama’s administration is stepping up overtures to Taiwan on joining the TPP as part of efforts to keep China in check, the newspaper said.
Asked to comment on the report, Lin said Taiwan was grateful for the support extended to it in its pursuit of TPP membership, but the ministry had not received any explicit information from the US as to its stance on Taiwan’s bid for membership.
In terms of economic relations with the US, the first and foremost task is to continue to negotiate on issues of concerns to both side under the TIFA platform, such as a bilateral investment agreement, “to create the conditions needed for Taiwan to join the TPP,” Lin said.
In related news, a two-day workshop held to brainstorm strategies to facilitate the nation’s entry into the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded yesterday.
At a post-meeting press conference, Representative to Thailand Henry Chen (陳銘政) said that he felt wholeheartedly that the government was determined to gear up for liberalization.
Thailand is one of several ASEAN countries with which Taiwan wants to open negotiations with on bilateral economic cooperation agreement, to pave the way for its inclusion into the RCEP. Thailand is already a member of the group.
A feasibility study on such an agreement with Thailand is expected to be finished at the end of next month, after about a year of research, Chen said.
Chen said that the discussions he had with officials at the workshop were helpful in addressing trade issues of concerns to Thailand, such as the ban on imports of purple mangosteen from Thailand.
Taiwan and Thailand are expected to begin negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement this year, part of a building block approach to push for a bilateral economic cooperation pact, he said.