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Former US Trade Representative Supports Taiwan's Application to Join CPTPP

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Rafia Tasleem
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Former U.S. Trade Representative's Take on Taiwan's CPTPP Bid

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Susan Schwab, the former U.S. Trade Representative, recently commended Taiwan's efforts to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Schwab expressed her support for Taiwan's entry into the trade pact, stating, "I think it'd be terrific if Taiwan could join." However, she voiced concerns over the potential implications if China were to join the CPTPP before Taiwan.

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According to Schwab, if China were to gain entry first, other CPTPP members might be influenced by China's sway and deter Taiwan's eventual membership. Schwab's concerns stem from China's reputation for being "heavy-handed," and its past record of non-compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.

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China's WTO Compliance Record: A Cause for Concern

Highlighting China's past behavior with international trade agreements, Schwab cited China's unfulfilled promise of signing the Agreement on Government Procurement upon its WTO membership. The former trade representative questioned China's commitment to adhering to the more stringent requirements of the CPTPP, given its history with the WTO.

She argued, "Beijing has never kept its promises in the WTO, so why would it become in compliance with a higher bar agreement like CPTPP?" This critical view underscores the skepticism surrounding China's potential CPTPP membership and its implications for other aspiring members like Taiwan.

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Taiwan's Diplomatic Efforts for CPTPP Membership

In recent months, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has been proactive in her efforts to secure Taiwan's CPTPP membership. The president has held meetings with lawmakers and influential figures from Australia, Canada, and the U.K., seeking to garner their governments' support for Taiwan's bid.

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On multiple occasions, Tsai has expressed her aspirations for Taiwan's entry into the CPTPP. She emphasizes Taiwan's commitment to promoting economic growth and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region, a goal that aligns well with the CPTPP's objectives.

Implications of Taiwan's CPTPP Membership for Regional Economic Integration

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported significant trade volumes between Taiwan and the 11 CPTPP members. In 2016, the trade volume amounted to US$128.99 billion, accounting for one-fourth of Taiwan's total trade. This statistic highlights the potential for enhanced economic integration should Taiwan become a member of the CPTPP.

The Ministry advocates for Taiwan's CPTPP membership, citing that it could offer significant benefits for all parties involved. The regional economic integration resulting from Taiwan's membership would provide a substantial boost to the economies of the CPTPP members and contribute to the broader goal of sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region.

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