Fri, Feb 15, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Japan welcomes Taiwan’s bid to join trade pact

BAN RECONSIDERED:Taiwan has been trying to mend ties with Japan since the referendum on food from nuclear-disaster affected areas was held

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Deputy Secretary-General Hsieh Bor-huei speaks at a news briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peng Wan-hsin, Taipei Times

The Japanese government welcomes all countries, including Taiwan, that can accept the principles and standards of a Japanese-led international economic bloc and has called on Taipei to solicit support to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a Taiwanese diplomat said yesterday.

The government has confirmed Tokyo’s official stance of welcoming Taipei’s bid to join the CPTPP, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Deputy Secretary-General Hsieh Bor-huei (謝柏輝) told a news briefing.

It has always been Japan’s stance that such a trade deal would be open to countries or regions that accept its principles and are willing to meet its standards, Hsieh added.

Japan also suggested that Taiwan should solicit support from more CPTPP members, because the trade group operates by consensus, he said.

A previous comment made by Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, who said that Taiwan’s decision to maintain a ban on Japanese food products from areas affected by the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster might hamper Taipei’s bid to join the CPTPP, was made in response to media inquires and might only reflect his personal view, Hsieh said.

On Nov. 24 last year, 78 percent of Taiwanese voters cast ballots in favor of the ban.

Asked about Tokyo’s stance regarding the result during a Dec. 7 news conference, Kono expressed disappointment and said that his government would consider filing a complaint with the WTO.

Hsieh said that Taiwan has been trying to amend ties with Japan since the referendum.

Taiwan is considering learning from the US and the EU, which screen certain food products imported from Japan’s nuclear disaster-affected areas to ensure they are safe to eat, instead of banning them altogether, he said.

“In this way, we can make sure the health of Taiwanese is protected, while at the same time staying in line with international standards when dealing with food safety issues,” he said.

The CPTPP last month agreed to expand its membership during its first commission meeting in Tokyo.

Participating countries in a joint ministerial statement highlighted the importance of expanding the agreement by taking in new members to form a stronger united front against the rise of protectionism.

CPTPP member countries understand that Taiwan is interested in joining the trade bloc, and the government would continue to communicate with them and seek their support, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The CPTPP came into being after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January 2017.

The other 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries — Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — renegotiated the free-trade deal and signed it in March last year.

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