Fri, Jan 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ministry to monitor CPTPP talks for membership hints

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan would closely watch membership expansion discussions for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to be held tomorrow to prepare for a push to join the trade bloc, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs Director-General Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) told a press conference in Taipei that the meeting to be held in Tokyo has expansion of the pact’s membership on the agenda.

Although the 11-member CPTPP officially came into force on Dec. 30, four of its members — Brunei, Malaysia, Chile and Peru — have yet to complete the ratification process, Yeh said.

It is thus likely that tomorrow’s meeting would focus on the rules of membership expansion rather than potential members, she said.

The ministry would closely monitor the talks and respond accordingly, she said.

Taiwan is in constant contact with Japan in the hope of winning its support for possible inclusion as a new CPTPP member, Yeh said.

However, Yeh also said that the passage of a referendum on Nov. 24 last year to maintain a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures presents an obstacle for inclusion in the CPTPP.

“We are continuing talks to convince Japanese officials that the food ban issue and Taiwan’s inclusion in the CPTPP should be discussed separately,” she said.

After the referendum, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono expressed disappointment at the result and said that his government would consider filing a complaint with the WTO over the ban, which has been in place since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan in March 2011.

Kono also said that a decision to maintain the ban might hamper Taiwan’s efforts to join the CPTPP.

The multilateral trade pact has 11 signatories — New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam — which together represent about 16 percent of global economic output and 500 million people.

Separately yesterday, in a meeting at the Presidential Office, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also sought CPTPP support from visiting Japanese House of Representatives member Katsuyuki Kawai, who serves as a special foreign affairs adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Tsai pledged to continue communications with Japan on the import ban issue in accordance with the spirit of the WTO, in the hope of finding a solution that both sides find acceptable.

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