Taiwan has officially requested to become part of the trade agreement known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.
The move by Taiwan’s government comes shortly after mainland China requested to become a member of the trade group.
Taiwan’s cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said in a statement Wednesday, "Applying to join the CPTPP is an important economic and trade policy that the government has worked hard to promote for a long time.”
Taiwan has been discussing the issue unofficially with current members of the group. The island has been prevented from being a member of many international organizations because of objections by the government of mainland China. But Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Taiwan has been working towards trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. The two sides have been frustrated because mainland China has not opened its economic markets as it promised to do. The U.S. and EU also want to show support for Taiwan’s democracy and its open market economic policies.
Last week, Taiwan’s Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua expressed concern about mainland China’s “sudden” decision to apply to join the group. She said she hoped it would not affect the island’s own application.
Mainland China had requested to join the trade group in a letter to New Zealand’s new trade minister, Damien O’Connor, last Thursday. China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as a rebel territory and has threatened to seize it by force.
Japan is the chair of the CPTPP this year. Japan said it would discuss China’s request with member countries. Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said last week: “Japan believes that it’s necessary to determine whether China, which submitted a request to join the TPP-11, is ready to meet its extremely high standards.”
Eleven countries signed the CPTPP agreement in 2018. The deal is aimed at reducing import taxes and putting in place trade rules for member nations.
The two largest economies that are members of the trade group are Japan and Canada. Other countries signing the deal are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Mexico. New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are also included.
The original agreement, known as TPP, had 12 countries including the United States. It was seen as an important economic measure against China’s growing influence under former U.S. President Barrack Obama. However, former President Donald Trump, who followed Obama, withdrew the United States from the deal in 2017.
Under President Joe Biden, the U.S. has not commented on the current trade agreement. But Britain started negotiations in June to join the group.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this Reuters report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
promote –v. to help something happen, develop or increase
sudden –adj. happening, coming or done quickly in a way that is not expected
apply –v. to formally or officially ask for something, such as membership in an organization
determine –v. to officially decide an issue, especially doing so based on evidence or facts
standards –n. (pl.) a group of requirements that are expected to be met
frustrated –adj. upset as a result of not being able to do or complete something
original –adj. happening or existing first or at the beginning
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