Taiwan's foreign ministry. Photo: Asia Times
Taiwan's foreign ministry. Photo: Asia Times

Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced on Thursday key measures to foster new trade and business partnerships.

Speaking during an Executive Yuan session, an official overseeing North American affairs said the ministry had already formulated measures to mitigate the effects of Beijing’s protracted trade row with Washington as well as Beijing’s expanded efforts to contain Taiwan’s international presence.

Taiwan has vowed to double down on its ties with de-facto allies like the US and Japan, in particular with a view to gaining membership in the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a revived version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Taiwanese Premier William Lai told reporters in August that the government had formed a negotiating team for upcoming talks to join the CPTPP during its second stage of expansion of member states.

Taiwanese Premier William Lai. Photo: Handout
Taiwanese officials and their Japanese counterparts are said to be in talks about supporting the island’s participation in the CPTPP. Photo: Handout

Lai said Taiwan hoped to join the trade deal as soon as possible as the agreement would enter into force in early 2019. He also said that the government was ready to ratify all CPTPP legislation.

Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are the current signatories of the CPTPP.

Taiwan also aims to take advantage of existing trade frameworks, including the existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement it has with the US.

Furthermore, Taiwan will explore ways to participate in the US-led Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, in which Washington has repeatedly acknowledged that Taiwan has a critical role.

Another official with the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs stressed that President Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy – devised to enhance cooperation and exchanges with 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia – could complement the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

These efforts by multiple Indo-Pacific nations to connect with each other would bring a fabric of stability and prosperity, which suits Taiwan’s own interests and America’s goal to bring a rules-based, free and open order to the Indo-Pacific region.

To help make this happen, the Taiwanese foreign ministry has set up an Indo-Pacific section under the Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Lai also told the legislature that the government would allow Taiwanese businesses operating in China and threatened by the Sino-US trade war to move their investments and operations back home or to nations covered by the New Southbound Policy.

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