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Chang Chia-juch: Delay of CSSTA threatens TPP, RCEP chances
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-07 03:00 PM
Minister of Economics Chang Chia-juch noted Monday that the oversight regulations being demanded by the students occupying the Legislative Yuan will apply not just to CSSTA but to all bilateral or multilateral agreements under negotiation in the future. Chang added that the clock is ticking on some of the agreements now being developed including the Cross-strait Goods Trade Agreement (CSGTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). If Taiwan wants to preserve its chances to participate in these and other trade arrangement, the oversight mechanism and CSSTA must both be approved as quickly as possible to avoid further delays. Chang emphasized that time becomes more and more critical with each passing day.

Chang acknowledged that putting oversight regulations in place is a good idea. He said that even if a negotiated agreement contains all the relevant laws and regulations, some people may not think so thus a few people in the government are now supporting oversight legislation. He warned, however, that time is critical and such a bill must be passed as soon as possible, by the end of the year, for example. The TPP talks are expected to wrap up by the end of this year, and negotiations on RCEP are scheduled to finish next year. If Taiwan cannot enact an oversight bill and start using it, the window of opportunity for TPP and RCEP could close, and it is very hard to say when or even whether Taiwan might have another chance to join a multi-lateral trade group.

Chang said he hopes that the oversight regulations and CSSTA can be developed and reviewed at the same time in order to expedite the approval of the trade agreement. He added that CSSTA is essentially a ‘done deal’ and should need a minimum of revision before it can be sign. Thus it might be possible to process both CSSTA and the oversight bill in parallel.

Chang added that to date Taiwan has not participated in any of the negotiations for either TPP or RCEP, and will not be able to submit an application for membership until the charter members have completed their talks. And the only way for Taiwan to apply for membership in RCEP is to first join ASEAN Plus One. Currently, however, there is no way for Taiwan to participate in ASEAN Plus One: the only option is to break through barriers by signing bilateral trade agreements with member nations. The China-Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement, TPP and RCEP are not going to wait for Taiwan, said Chang, and the government must act quickly if it hopes to participate in any of these trade agreements in the future.

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