Taiwan's APEC bilateral talks to focus on CPTPP bid: Top trade negotiator

13/11/2023    113

Taiwan's top trade negotiator John Deng (鄧振中) said on Sunday that the main aim of bilateral talks at the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is to build up support for Taiwan's Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) participation.

In an interview with CNA, Deng, who is part of the Taiwan delegation for APEC 2023 that is being held from Nov. 11-17 in San Francisco, said the forum is expected to serve as an important opportunity for Taiwan's delegates to meet representatives from CPTPP member countries.

Deng said the Taiwanese delegation is aiming to hold as many bilateral meetings as possible to express Taiwan's strong desire to join the CPTPP and brief member countries about the preparatory efforts the country has been making.

The CPTPP currently has 11 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The United Kingdom will join the trade bloc soon.

Taiwan applied on Sept. 22, 2021 to join the economic bloc, which represents 500 million consumers and 13.5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

APEC, founded in 1989, has a total of 21 members.

Deng said he expects that other APEC members will want to discuss semiconductor cooperation, particularly as chip security has increasingly become a national security issue in the wake of disrupted supply chains post-COVID-19 and growing geopolitical tensions.

Deng added that other APEC members will likely be hoping that Taiwanese IC companies will invest in their countries or help them build up their own semiconductor talent pools.

Taiwan currently produces about 90 percent of the most advanced semiconductors, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the largest contract chipmaker in the world, commanding more than a 50 percent share in the global pure-play wafer foundry industry.

TSMC is currently building two advanced wafer plants in Arizona, is currently building one and considering building another in Japan, and recently announced it would set up a joint venture and build another in Germany.

In addition, Deng said he hoped to meet U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) to demonstrate Taiwan's determination to push for a second round of talks under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade because current progress with negotiations was slower than expected.

On June 1, Taiwan and the United States signed their "First Agreement" after concluding the first round of talks under the initiative.

The two sides are working towards facilitating bilateral trade and investment flows, improving regulatory practices, promoting anti-corruption measures and minimizing unnecessary border formalities.

The agreement does not cover tariff reductions or exemptions but does outline practices and procedures aimed at streamlining and strengthening trade relations.

According to the Office of Trade Negotiations, headed by Deng, the hope is that the First Agreement will expand and include other topics mandated in the initiative, such as agriculture, digital trade, labor, environment, state-owned enterprises, and nonmarket policies and practices.

Appointed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), TSMC founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Tuesday to attend the APEC summit.

Chang, 92, has served as the Taiwanese president's envoy to APEC seven times. He first attended the annual APEC summit on behalf of Taiwan's president in 2006, during the administration of then-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

APEC 2023 has the theme of "Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All."

Also under the spotlight at this year's APEC is the anticipated meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), which will be their first since November 2022 amid escalating tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Taiwan joined APEC in 1991 under the name "Chinese Taipei."

Source: Focus Taiwa