Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) on May 28 said that “China has a positive and open attitude toward joining the CPTPP [Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership]” at a news conference in connection with the third session of the Chinese National People’s Congress.
It was the first time that China has officially expressed a willingness to join the partnership. Although it has taken no concrete action yet, and no feasibility study has appeared, the comment has changed the dynamic surrounding the future of regional economic integration.
China has always looked on CPTPP membership with reservations, because its predecessor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was tailor-made for the US. Almost no changes were made between the TPP and the CPTPP, and China has found it difficult to accept the US’ rules.
As a US-China trade dispute and the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted a reorganization of the global supply chain, China’s main objective is to use free-trade agreements to find another opening to break through and minimize the impact of US containment.
If the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is signed in November, it would further consolidate China’s position in the Asia-Pacific region and put it at an advantage over the US, which has only bilateral agreements in the region, but no multilateral ones.
Most CPTPP members have been supportive of China’s announcement and think that it would be beneficial to regional trade stability, although they also have their own individual agendas.
Australia, for example, is supporting Chinese membership, because it hopes to use the bilateral talks preceding Chinese membership to mend deteriorating relations between the two countries.
It is worth considering that as CPTPP entry requires a unanimous decision among the members, the US could try to use Mexico to block China.
The US position would also have an effect on Chinese membership.
US President Donald Trump would not bring the US into the organization, but Democratic presidential candidate and former US vice president Joe Biden, who leads Trump in the presidential election polls, has said that he would be willing to consider CPTPP membership for the US.
If the US were to join, the possibility of a Chinese membership would drop.
Taiwan must also evaluate CPTPP developments. Apart from solving trade issues, such as the import of food products from Japan, it must also consider Chinese interference.
If China applies for CPTPP membership and Taiwan also receives an entrance ticket, the process might follow the same procedure as when the nation joined the WTO in 2002: Taiwan would only be able to join after China does.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the world, countries feel the importance of maintaining supply chain stability and guaranteeing industrial security.
With the inefficiencies of the multilateral WTO, the best option is to use regional trade agreements to lower obstacles to trade and consolidate supply chains by initiating industrial cooperation.
Regional integration would pick up speed around the world, and in addition to forming new free-trade agreements, existing ones would expand their membership, and widen their scope. This would set off another wave of competition.
Liu Da-nien is director of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research’s Regional Development Study Center.
Translated by Perry Svensson
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In terms of the economic outlook for the semiconductor industry, Taiwan has outperformed the rest of the world for three consecutive years. This is quite rare. In addition, Taiwan has been playing an important role in the US-China technology dispute, and both want Taiwan on their side, reflecting the remaking of the nation’s semiconductor industry. Under the leadership of — above all — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the industry as a whole has shifted from a focus on capacity to a focus on quality, as companies now have to be able to provide integration of hardware and software, as well as
US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific region will have huge repercussions for Taiwan. The US Department of State in the final weeks of former US president Donald Trump’s term took several actions clearly aimed to push Biden’s foreign policy to build on Trump’s achievements. Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the final day of the Trump administration that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang was welcome, but comes far too late. The recent dropping of “self-imposed” restrictions on meetings between Taiwanese and US officials was
In memory of Diane Baker: one of the last working dance journalists, a true dance aficionado and dear friend. On Friday, through a mutual friend, I received the shocking news that dance critic Diane Baker had passed away suddenly at her apartment in Tianmu, Taipei. The news quickly spread, and messages of concern quickly swarmed in from the dance community in Taiwan and abroad. Her sister Sharon in the US later confirmed that Diane died of a heart attack on Wednesday last week. She was 65. Diane was a dear friend to Taiwan’s dance community. Her frequent appearance at dance performances in