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Taiwan Applies to Join Pacific Trade Deal Days after China

Taiwan Applies to Join Pacific Trade Deal Days after China

Thursday, 23 September, 2021 - 06:00
Taiwan has applied to join the Asia-Pacific region's biggest free-trade pact. Sam Yeh AFP

Taiwan has applied to join a major trans-Pacific trade deal, officials confirmed Thursday, days after China said it also wanted to become a member of the agreement.

Signed by 11 Asia-Pacific countries in 2018, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is the region's biggest free-trade pact and accounts for around 13.5 percent of the global economy, reported Agence France-Presse.

"Most of (the CPTPP's) member countries are Taiwan's key trade partners, accounting for over 24 percent of Taiwan's international trade," cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters.

"Taiwan can't be left out in the world and has to integrate into the regional economy."

Negotiations for the sweeping trade deal were initially led by the United States as a way to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

It was also designed to keep China, which has its own regional trade deal, locked out.

But former president Donald Trump, who disdained multilateral agreements, pulled out of the deal in 2017.

The CPTPP is the successor to those negotiations and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

Taiwan had been lobbying to join the pact for years but on Thursday made a formal application.

The island's announcement came less than a week after China said it had also formally applied to join.

Those hoping to join, such as Britain, must have the unanimous support of all the pact's member countries.

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