Taiwan applies to join CPTPP less than a week after China applied officially

Taiwan was concerned with China's "sudden" decision to join the CPTPP.

Faris Alfiq | September 23, 2021, 02:14 PM

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Taiwan has formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Wednesday, Sep. 22, Financial Times (FT) reported.

The application came less than a week after China applied officially to join the pact on Sep. 16.

According to FT, a government official said that Taiwan has submitted its application to New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which oversees the CPTPP membership.

Eleven countries signed the CPTPP in 2018. They are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the CPTPP pact includes agreements on market access, labour movement, and government procurement.

Taiwan concerned about Chinese membership

Taiwan's application to join the CPTPP came in less than a week after China submitted its application.

Taiwan's Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said the self-ruled island is concerned about China's "sudden" decision to join the trade pact, Reuters reported.

Wang also hoped that China's application would not affect its application.

Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic pressure internationally in an effort to exclude Taiwan from global organisations and bodies, such as the World Health Organization, citing the "one China" policy as the reason.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory that must reunite with the mainland even if force has to be used.

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said joining the CPTPP is an important economic and trade policy for Taiwan.

"Applying to join the CPTPP is an important economic and trade policy that the government has worked hard to promote for a long time," Lo said.

He added that Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang had also asked ministries to prepare for talks.

Risky if China joins first

Taiwan's chief trade negotiator John Deng said that there is a "risk" to Taiwan's application if China manages to join the trade agreement first.

Deng also accused China of always trying to obstruct Taiwan's international participation.

"So if China joins first, Taiwan's membership case should be quite risky. This is quite obvious," he said, although he added that Taiwan's system, such as its democracy and rule of law, differs from China's.

However, despite the timing of Taiwan's application, Deng said that there is no "direct connection" between Taiwan's recent application and China's application to the CPTPP a week ago.

He added that he could not tell when Taiwan may be allowed to join the CPTPP.

Taiwan has previously expressed interest in joining the CPTPP before it was revamped from its earlier iteration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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