TAIPEI – Taiwan will seek the support of the United States for the signing of bilateral and multilateral investment and free trade agreements, the Taiwanese president told a senior U.S. official on Monday.
Given the uncertain prospects of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, Taiwan wishes to negotiate bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, Tsai Ing-wen told Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Matthew J. Matthews, according to a statement by the presidential office.
Tsai explained that her government will spur the necessary reforms to prepare itself to negotiate trade agreements and continue holding bilateral and multilateral talks with its most important trade partners.
Tsai thanked the U.S. for its international support and added that the island should not be excluded from any regional free trade agreements in Asia Pacific or from interregional economic integration.
In Taiwan, there are fears that worsening ties with China will intensify Beijing’s international siege against Taiwan and harm its prospects of signing free trade agreements and joining regional bodies.
Until now, China has tacitly accepted agreements between Taiwan and Singapore and New Zealand after the countries had signed such agreements with Beijing.
Taiwan had expressed a desire to join the TPP and the expected withdrawal of the U.S. from the project is a blow to its attempts to avoid trade marginalization.
Although the island also wants to be a part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), it will not be able to do so without China’s consent since Beijing plays a leading role in the group, which accounts for 50 percent of world’s population and 24 percent of the global GDP.
The RCEP includes the ASEAN countries of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.