A number of Asian countries have begun feasibility studies on signing trade agreements with Taiwan, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said on Wednesday.
India has been studying the feasibility of a trade deal with Taiwan, and Indonesia has been conducting a similar study using Indonesian think tanks, Shih said.
Taiwan has also been lobbying Thailand and Malaysia to engage in trade talks through Taiwan’s representative offices in those countries, he said.
Aside from those new initiatives, Taiwan is still negotiating a trade deal with Singapore, Shih said.
Singapore was the first country to work with Taiwan on a pact after Taipei signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing.
Taiwan and Singapore are negotiating a trade pact to be called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership.
On Tuesday, the leaders of the 10 members of ASEAN announced a plan to start talks next year on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Asked about the progress of Taiwan’s plans for trade agreements with other countries, Shih said the ministry has specific goals, but given Taiwan’s special international status, trade negotiations also involve many other factors.
Addressing a seminar on emerging markets in Taipei, Shih said the US’ “fiscal cliff,” the eurozone debt crisis and Japan’s economic slump have all hurt Taiwan’s export-reliant economy.
The minister said the nation hopes to break into emerging markets, such as the ASEAN nations, Russia and the Middle East, which he said have a number of attractions, such as large populations, a rising middle class and GDP growth of between 5 percent and 9 percent.