Services pact not directly linked to Taiwan's TPP bid: U.S. official
Central News Agency
2014-04-21 11:26 PM
Taipei, April 21 (CNA) The United States does not think that Taiwan's handling of its trade-in-services agreement with China will affect Taiwan's bid to join the proposed U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an Asia-Pacific trade bloc, a visiting U.S. official said Monday. "We certainly don't see any direct connection between the trade in services with cross strait and with TPP," said Robert Wang, U.S. senior official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), when asked about the issue during an interview with the local media. The trade-in-services pact has been stalled at the Legislative Yuan since shortly after it was signed in June last year. Opponents of the pact are worried that it would hurt Taiwan's interests and open the way for greater Chinese influence over Taiwan. It triggered a 24-day occupation of the Legislature by protesters that ended April 10. Taiwan's government has argued that passing the trade-in-services agreement is critical to opening the way for participation in other free trade blocs in the future, and failure to pass it would hurt its credibility in seeking similar deals. Wang also downplayed the possibility of China being the main factor in Taiwan's bid to join the TPP. The U.S. does not see a connection between those two things, he added. The U.S. will evaluate "anyone who is interested in TPP" based on TPP requirements and standards, he said, in response to questions on China's possible influence over other TPP negotiating countries that could hinder Taiwan's TPP entry. As for the controversial services agreement between Taiwan and China, Wang said it is for Taiwan to decide whether the pact benefits itself or not. He also took the opportunity to urge Taiwan to step up its trade liberalization efforts in preparations for joining the TPP. "In the future when we look at Taiwan's membership in TPP, we will be asking Taiwan essentially what areas are you willing to open up on its own," Wang said. Strengthening trade ties with the United States is also conducive for Taiwan's TPP bid, he said. He also noted that during the recent round of talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), both sides agreed to begin talks at expert levels on TPP. The TPP is being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 other countries -- Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei. Wang is on a visit that will wrap up Tuesday. During his visit, he participated in an APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting and met with President Ma Ying-jeou and economic and foreign affairs officials. Asked about the possibility of a meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC forum, Wang said the issue was not raised during his meetings with Taiwanese officials this time. That is an issue for Taiwan and China to decide, he said. Wang assumed the role of U.S. senior official for APEC in August 2013 and paid a visit to Taiwan the following month. (By Elaine Hou)
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