Official says stalling of cross-strait pact will affect Taiwan's TPP bid
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
April 25, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Ministry of Economic Affairs official yesterday insisted that delaying the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement will affect Taiwan's bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Fielding questions at a legislative committee session, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) stressed that the Chinese factor definitely plays a major role in Taiwan's bid to join the TPP.
"It is a political reality," Cho said in response to criticism from opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers who said that the ruling administration is threatening the public by tying the cross-strait pact to the TPP.
Cho made the remarks when asked to comment on the remarks made by a U.S. official who said that the Legislative Yuan's delay in passing the cross-strait agreement has little effect on Taiwan's bid to join the TPP.
"We (the U.S. government) certainly do not see any direct link between the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement and the TPP," Robert Wang, a U.S. senior official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), told local media on Monday during his visit.
Whether or not Taiwan is willing to open up to China is not seen as a must, or as criteria for the U.S. to consider accepting Taiwan as a member of the TPP, he added.
Asked to comment on the U.S. official's remark, Cho said that the government respects the opinions of all.
But he noted that many former U.S. officials, including Douglas Paal, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) Taipei office from 2002 to 2006, have expressed concern over the delay.
Though the TPP was initiated by the U.S., and China is not a member, Cho said six of the total 12 countries in negotiations to join the TPP are subject to major influence from China because China is the biggest trade partner for these six countries.
US Pork Issue
When asked to comment if the U.S. has been insisting that Taiwan make it its priority to establish a maximum residue level for ractopamine used in pork before it joins the TPP, Cho said that the government's stance will not change.
But he admitted that the U.S. did make the appeal during the recently concluded bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks held earlier this month in Washington.
Led by the U.S., the TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement being negotiated among the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.