WTO deal to benefit island: minister
CNATAIPEI--A new package of trade measures agreed upon Saturday at a World Trade Organization (WTO) conference is expected to reduce trade costs by 15 percent for developing countries and 10 percent for developed countries, Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch said Saturday.
December 9, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Chang said in a telephone interview with CNA that Taiwan, which is considered as a developing country, strongly supported the trade deal clinched Saturday in Bali by 159 WTO members in what was hailed as a rare victory for the multilateral trading system.
The deal on trade facilitation reached at the conference was important for Taiwan because it has not signed many free trade agreements and is not a member of the World Customs Organization, and consequently needs multilateral deals to knock down barriers to trade, Chang said.
Reports from Bali said the agreement on trade facilitation would help reduce transaction costs, cut red tape, improve transparency, and simplify and streamline customs and port procedures, among others.
“We are very happy with the agreement on trade facilitation,” he said, adding that he believed the clinching of the new deal called the Bali Package would help restore confidence in the negotiating functions of the WTO.
Any multilateral agreements are beneficial to Taiwan because it has been at a disadvantage in promoting bilateral and regional integration, Chang said.
If the WTO member delivers on its negotiating function, then Taiwan, as a member of the organization, will be less dependent on joining regional economic integration and negotiating bilateral trade agreement, Chang said.
Even with Saturday's success, Taiwan will continue to seek membership in regional economic blocs, the minister said.
Chang also said Taiwan's delegation to the WTO conference held bilateral talks with Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Vietnam and Myanmar on the sidelines of the forum.
Beyond the specific deals reached Saturday, the agreement has kept alive the possibility that a broader agreement to create a more level playing field for rich and poor countries can be reached in the future, Chang said.
The Doha round of WTO negotiations, which began in 2001, have been for the most part a failure, with talks stalled over major issues with the emergence of trade protectionism in recent years.