Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Taiwan preparing strong bid to join CPTPP, Lai says

Staff writer, with CNA

Premier William Lai yesterday speaks during an interview at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan is making a strong bid to participate in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), despite Chinese obstruction, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday.

As a member of the WTO, Taiwan is eligible to join the CPTPP, which is preparing to start accession talks with potential new members next year, Lai said in an interview with Central News Agency.

With Taiwan’s economic development record, it should be able to contribute to the CPTPP, but because of Chinese obstruction, it is difficult for Taiwan to become part of the trade pact, he said.

The difficulties facing Taiwan are not domestic, but “are completely because of political obstacles from China,” Lai said.

In addition to ensuring that it meets the requirements, Taiwan has to seek the support of current signatories to the accord, the premier said.

Although China is not one of the nine signatories, it is trying to influence member countries to block Taiwan’s participation, he said.

Given Beijing’s recent actions to suppress Taiwan, it would not be surprising to see it redouble its efforts on the trade deal, he said.

The government will nonetheless continue its work to join the CPTPP, Lai said, citing as an example its efforts to amend domestic laws.

The signatories to the CPTPP last month agreed to start a second round of accession talks next year, when the trade deal is due to take effect, and Taiwan is pushing hard for inclusion in those talks, he said.

Taiwan has been hoping to join the trade pact since it was first put together as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was renegotiated in March after the US pulled out, and has evolved into the CPTPP.

Lai also said the government remains committed to making Taiwan “nuclear-free” by 2025 and the public need not fear power shortages.

The government will do its best to meet electricity demand, improve air quality and increase green energy use by 2025 as it phases out nuclear power, he said.

By 2025, the government wants 20 percent of energy to be green — mainly solar and wind power — 30 percent to be coal-fired and 50 percent to be generated from liquefied natural gas.

Asked about the business community’s electricity supply concerns, Lai said that the operating electricity reserve margin has remained above 6 percent over the past two months, so there is no indication of a power shortage.

“All I can say is that Taiwan’s power generation does not meet the standards of some people,” Lai said.

Some believe that the reserve margin should be at least 10 percent, he said adding that the government aims to reach that goal next year, for example by installing new generator units at the Tunghsiao Power Plant in Miaoli County and the Dalin Power Plant in Kaohsiung.

Nuclear plants supply about 12 to 15 percent of electricity, Lai said, adding that phasing out nuclear energy by 2025 would not be significant and would not put Taiwan’s industries at risk of a power shortage.

Wind and solar power installations would be sufficient to replace the nuclear plants, he said.

As for concerns over possibly higher electricity prices due to use of more renewable energy sources, Lai said that any increase would be minimal and would not significantly affect manufacturing industries.

Taiwan is dependent on imported energy and should find ways to ease some of that reliance by moving more toward solar and wind power, he said.

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