23 Sep 2021, 09:19

Taiwan applies to join Pacific trade deal days after China

  TAIPEI, Sept 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Taiwan has applied to join a major
trans-Pacific trade deal, officials confirmed Thursday, days after China said
it also wanted to become a member of the agreement.

   Signed by 11 Asia-Pacific countries in 2018, the Comprehensive and
Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is the region's
biggest free-trade pact and accounts for around 13.5 percent of the global

   "Most of (the CPTPP's) member countries are Taiwan's key trade partners,
accounting for over 24 percent of Taiwan's international trade," cabinet
spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters.

   "Taiwan can't be left out in the world and has to integrate into the
regional economy."

   Negotiations for the sweeping trade deal were initially led by the United
States as a way to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

   It was also designed to keep China, which has its own regional trade deal,
locked out.

   But former president Donald Trump, who disdained multilateral agreements,
pulled out of the deal in 2017.

   The CPTPP is the successor to those negotiations and includes Australia,
Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore
and Vietnam.

   Taiwan had been lobbying to join the pact for years but on Thursday made a
formal application.

   The island's announcement came less than a week after China said it had
also formally applied to join the deal.

   Those hoping to join, such as Britain, must have the unanimous support of
all the trade pact's member countries.

   China's application comes at a time when Beijing is feuding with a host of
western nations.

  On Thursday, Canberra said China must end a freeze on contacts with senior
Australian politicians if it hopes to join.

   Taiwan's application will likely be opposed by Beijing, which views the
self-ruled democratic island as its own territory and has vowed to one day
seize it, by force if necessary.

   China's authoritarian leaders baulk at any international relations with

   They have ramped up economic, military and diplomatic pressure on the
island since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen who views Taiwan as
a sovereign nation.

   All of the CPTPP members have official diplomatic relations with Beijing,
not Taipei.

   But China's growing threats towards Taiwan have generated international
sympathy for the island among western powers.

   Last month, Tsai said Taiwan would "expect political obstacles" in joining
the CPTPP but she added that regional allies like Japan had welcomed Taipei's
desire to join.



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