While President Ma Ying-jeou was admitting that the time was not yet right for Taiwan to enter into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, the Acting United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis was telling a foreign press media briefing that there were no deadlines for either Taiwan or South Korea to join the negotiations.
During a meeting with the US-Taiwan Business Association, President Ma confirmed that the Government was presently concentrating on the strengthening of bilateral economic and trade cooperation with the US through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meetings, which were only re–commenced earlier this month.
TIFA meetings are expected to put the development of economic and trade relations with the US back on track after their suspension in 2007, following a Taiwanese ban on certain beef imports from the US. Taiwan sees the resumption of TIFA talks with the US as crucial to its long-term objective to integrate Taiwan into the trading structures of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly by entering into the TPP within the next eight years.
While Ma disclosed that the moment had, therefore, not yet arrived for Taiwan to participate in TPP talks, which the US is leading, Marantis was stipulating that there was no timing limits for any country interested in joining the TPP. "If an economy is interested in being part of TPP it has to demonstrate a willingness to meet the high standards that we're negotiating in the TPP agreement," he said.
"The whole point of the TPP is to serve as a platform for integration in the Asia Pacific region," he added. "If an economy is interested in meeting the high standards of the TPP agreement, it needs to express that interest, that it's capable of meeting the high standards that we're negotiating. And the 11 TPP partners then decide by consensus whether or not to admit a new member."
In addition, while Marantis confirmed that the US has had informal bilateral talks to inform South Korea about the TPP negotiations, and the US does believe that South Korea would be a "natural candidate" for the TPP, its participation would be ultimately a decision for the South Korean Government to make, and it has not "shown any clear interest."
He then added: The whole point of the agreement is to serve as a platform for regional integration in Asia. The idea of it is to be a living agreement so that we're able to incorporate new members and new issues as we look to the future."
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