Taiwan Applies to Join Pacific Trade Deal Just Days After China

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(Bloomberg) — Taiwan has submitted an application to join a Pacific trade deal, just days after China sent its own request to become a member of the agreement which was once pushed by the U.S. as a way to isolate Beijing and solidify American dominance in the region.

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The Taiwanese application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was sent to New Zealand, with a public announcement scheduled for as soon as Thursday morning, according to a person familiar with the situation. New Zealand is the depositary nation for the deal and will forward it to the other 10 nations. 

New Zealand’s foreign affairs ministry didn’t reply to an email requesting comment sent after business hours. Taiwan’s cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng wasn’t available to comment.

Taiwan already has free-trade deals with two of the members – New Zealand and Singapore – and has been working toward joining the trade agreement for years, with President Tsai Ing-wen making it a key goal for her final term in office. However, China opposes any move to deal openly with Taiwan, which will make the discussions between Beijing, Taipei and the 11 member nations difficult. 

Tsai’s government, which views Taiwan as an already de facto sovereign nation, has made building out support from democratic allies in the region a crucial part of its efforts to counter rising pressure from Beijing. That includes closer ties with CPTPP members such as Australia, which is in the midst of a trade dispute with China, and Japan, which is a key trading partner and the largest economy in CPTPP. Lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party last month backed Taiwan’s entry into the deal.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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