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Seminar on TPP, RCEP bids to kick off today

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A group of Taiwan's overseas envoys will attend a seminar that begins today in Taipei as part of the country's preparations for working to gain entry into two proposed Asia-Pacific trade blocs.

The envoys, posted mainly in countries involved in the trade bloc negotiations, will attend a four-day seminar aimed at developing strategies to gain support abroad for Taiwan's bids to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

President Ma Ying-jeou will host the opening ceremony today, and Premier Jiang Yi-huah and officials from other related government agencies will meet with the envoys over the next two days to discuss Taiwan's preparations to join the regional economic integration, the ministry said in a statement.

Topics to be discussed include strategies to join the TPP and the RCEP, Taiwan's trade liberalization efforts, the free economic pilot zones and the development of the cross-Taiwan Strait relationship, the ministry said.

Some of the envoys will also share their experiences in negotiating economic agreements with other countries, it added.

During the last two days of the seminar, participants will travel to the precision machinery innovation technology park in Taichung, central Taiwan, the ministry said, adding that they will visit the free trade zone at Kaohsiung Harbor and the agricultural biotechnology park in Pingtung, southern Taiwan.

The visits are aimed at providing the overseas representatives a better understanding of Taiwan's competitive industries and the continuing progress on the country's free economic pilot zones, the ministry said.

This information is meant to help the envoys seek support from the countries in which they are based.

Taiwan's representatives expected to return for the seminar, according to the Foreign Ministry, include those from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, Peru, Chile, Canada and Mexico.

Diplomatic sources also said Taiwan's representative to the United States, King Pu-tsung, will not return to attend the seminar, but Taiwan's deputy representative to the U.S. will be present.

King was appointed secretary-general of the National Security Council on Feb. 7.

Taiwan's current representative to the United Kingdom, Shen Lyushun, who will succeed King as the country's representative in the U.S., will return to attend the seminar, the source said.

The TPP currently is being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, including Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei.

The RCEP is being negotiated by all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Taiwan has repeatedly reiterated its desire to join the two trade blocs to avoid being economically marginalized in the region.

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