News / Economy

Taiwan in Tough Fight to Join Regional Trade Blocs

FILE - Taiwan's Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-Juch (2nd L) and Foreign Minister David Lin (R) attend a news conference.
FILE - Taiwan's Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-Juch (2nd L) and Foreign Minister David Lin (R) attend a news conference.
Ralph Jennings
Taiwan is mounting a campaign to join two key Asia-Pacific trade blocs. To stay competitive economically, it wants a place in the U.S.- led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Asia’s 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. However, Taiwan’s old rival, China, is likely to forbid membership in both.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has said he will push for membership in the two regional trade blocs to open major markets for local companies. Taiwan wants more trade integration so its exporters can enjoy lower tariffs in other countries, like its peers from South Korea and Southeast Asia. Raymond Wu, managing director with political risk consultancy e-telligence in Taipei, said the president is now marshaling support.
“Government would like to make it sort of like a rallying point to get all the partisan differences behind them and try to focus on getting Taiwan to become more regionally integrated economically,” said Wu.
Taiwan has signed trade deals with China, New Zealand, Singapore and five tiny diplomatic allies. That hardly compares to Taiwan’s export competitors, some of which have deals throughout Asia, in Europe and with the United States. Beijing normally uses its economic power to stop other countries from signing agreements with Taiwan and from allowing it to join international bodies that require statehood as a precondition.
China also insists that other governments avoid formal relations with the government in Taipei. China-Taiwan ties have improved since 2008, but Taiwan has avoided the discussion of political issues. Jeffrey Wilson, politics lecturer at Murdoch University in Australia, said that other countries may be willing to let Taiwan, the world’s 26th largest economy, join a regional bloc, but would not want to risk upsetting China.
“The stakes would be considered so high and the benefit to everyone of letting them so low, as it would aggravate China so significantly, it might not be worth an issue,” said Wilson.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would particularly irk China by admitting Taiwan. This group has asked China to join, but Beijing is staying out because it fears too much influence by the United States and its allies. China is pushing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as an alternative.
Taiwan has taken its campaign to heads of state around the Pacific Rim, using a regional economic forum in October to let the other parties know about its ambition to join the TPP. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said that Taiwan has been heard. She reported that Taiwan has already made contact with TPP members on many related occasions because Taiwan is an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation member, as are many parties to the TPP.
China allows Taiwan in the 21-member APEC group because the island has agreed not to send heads of state. Beijing also occasionally lets it observe United Nations-backed agencies. However, experts say China’s goodwill is wearing thin because Taiwan will not discuss political issues that could lead the two sides toward Beijing’s goal of eventual reunification.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.