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President ups preparations for regional trade pacts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In an effort to expedite Taiwan's inclusion into ongoing regional trade agreement negotiations, President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday tasked a number of governing bodies with forming comprehensive plans and strategies for the endeavor before the end of July.

In addition, former Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) will be called upon to form a guiding committee comprised of experts from the private sector, including industry leaders, interest groups, academia and politicians. The committee will collaborate closely with governing bodies on forming plans and strategies in preparing Taiwan's bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP, 跨太平洋夥伴協定) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP, 區域全面經濟夥伴關係). The committee will also attempt garner the support of Taiwan's private sector in joining the RCEP and TPP.

According to reports, Ma and Siew share a growing concern over the lack of progress in Taiwan's bid to join regional trade agreements, amid pervading political rows and contention.

Opposition parties however, stated much like his four-year tenure as vice president in the past, they are not expecting Siew's participation in the endeavor to produce tangible results. The Presidential Office replied Siew will now be able to better utilize his expertise and personal connections with business and government leaders in cross-strait negotiations, as he is no longer confined by the sensitive role of serving as Taiwan's Vice President.

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