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March 25, 2017

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Japanese PM supports Taiwan's TPP bid

BALI, Indonesia -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supports Taiwan's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade bloc and a free trade deal between Japan and Taiwan, the spokesman for Taiwan's delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Indonesia said yesterday.

Abe expressed his support earlier in the day during a meeting with Taiwan's former Vice President Vincent Siew on the sidelines of the APEC economic leaders' summit, according to Kuan Chung-ming, who also heads the country's Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Siew attended the summit on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou.

During the meeting with Abe, Siew broached the topic of Taiwan's hope of deepening economic and cultural ties with Japan, to which Abe gave a positive response, Kuan said.

Abe said he supports Taiwan's inclusion in the TPP, a regional trade bloc of 12 members including the United States and Japan, and Japan's signing of a free trade agreement with Taiwan, the spokesman said at an international press conference after the two-day summit ended.

At the press conference, Siew also addressed local qualms about opening up Taiwan's market while other countries are vying to get ahead economically by signing trade deals and joining world trade bodies. This was seen as a possible reference to a dispute around a deal with China opening up the service sectors on either side of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan wants to participate in international organizations without knowing either the goal of doing that or the price that needs to be paid, he said, adding that it is something both the general public and the politicians in Taiwan need to reflect on.

"It is a shame that people in Taiwan have not paid enough attention to what is going on in the international community," he added.

Vietnam is a member of not only APEC but also the TPP and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Siew noted. South Korea has inked free trade deals with the U.S., the European Union and ASEAN, while Abe expressed Japan's desire to pursue economic growth in a peech at the summit, a departure from Japan's usual conservative line, Siew added.

Siew said Taiwan should learn from the APEC member countries' resolve and confidence in pursuing liberalization.

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