Taiwan, keen to join Pacific trade deal, questions “sudden” Chinese bid


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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s Economy Minister on Friday expressed concern over China’s “sudden” decision to ask to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and said he hoped this would not affect the island’s candidacy.

China asked to join the free trade agreement in a letter to New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

Taiwanese Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters in Taipei that China’s bid was “sudden”.

Many of China’s recent policies were contrary to the principles of a free economy and lacked transparency, such as import bans “for no reason”, and China may not be able to meet “high standards” CPTPP, she said.

“They also have friction with some CPTPP member states,” she said.

Taiwan has made its own preparations to join the CPTPP and believes it will happen when the conditions are right, Wang added.

“We will pay particular attention to the reaction of member countries to China’s candidacy and hope that this will not affect our membership bid.”

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and will not be happy if Taipei is allowed to join the group that precedes it.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was and was seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s growing influence.

But the TPP was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when then-US President Donald Trump stepped down.

The group, renamed CPTPP, links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Britain also wants to join https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/first-meeting-uks-cptpp-inclusion-be-held-month-japan-minister-says-2021-09-01 the trans – Pacific trade agreement and in June began negotiations.

Taiwan is excluded from many international bodies due to China’s insistence that it is part of a “one China” rather than a separate country.

But Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Group (APEC).

Taiwan has been encouraged by recent progress towards trade deals with the United States and the European Union, both of whom are frustrated by China’s lack of progress in opening up its economy and are keen to show their support for Taiwanese democracy and much freer market policies.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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