Written by Liqiao Guo. This article clarifies how the mainland and Taiwan view each other’s applications and tries to find the similarities and differences by addressing three vital questions. First, what are the motivations for both sides, respectively? Second, Who and why do they think they can finally join? Third, what would the final result be and its impact on cross-strait relations and the Asian-Pacific region’s economic order? This research details some of the essential official statements and academic contributions to the overall debate on both sides. Although I primarily draw on official statements and academic contributions to elucidate the discussion, I also consider newspaper articles, mainly because they provide an insight into an influential and growing antagonistic perspective.
Written by Peter C. Y. Chow. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) was considered as one of the pathways to a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) during the APEC meeting in 2014. Hence, membership enlargement in this trade bloc will enhance its sphere of regional influence, leading toward the path of free trade in the Asia Pacific. CPTPP is the highest standard of trade accord which includes what is not in the WTO-the WTO extra and those beyond the WTO- the WTO plus. Therefore, it symbolises a gold standard of trade liberalisation in the 21st century.
Written by Tian He and Michael Magcamit. Taiwan is becoming increasingly isolated in the regional economy. The virtual signing of the RCEP on 15 November 2020 was a milestone for Asia’s regional economic integration. Although it is debatable whether the RCEP is a Chinese-led initiative, China is undoubtedly a significant player capable of shaping regional economic rules. Taiwan was excluded from this major trade deal despite being a technology powerhouse and an important trading nation that has spurred Asia’s integration with the world economy in the post-war period. Taiwan’s main regional economic competitor, South Korea, is far ahead of Taiwan regarding regional integration. It is believed that South Korea has free trade agreements (FTAs) with around three-quarters of regional economies. Under these circumstances, the CPTPP can be an opportunity for the Tsai administration to overcome its diplomatic isolation and revive the economy through deepening regional economic integration. Accordingly, Tsai has stressed the importance of the trade pact, stating that joining the CPTPP would strengthen Taiwan’s key strategic and economic position by further integrating the island-state with the rest of the world.
Written by Guanie Lim and Xu Chengwei. In March 2021, the UK government published the ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’ report. Amongst other things, it sets out the UK’s four key objectives: upholding an international order supportive of liberal democratic values; contributing to the security of this order; building greater global resilience to the impacts of climate change, health insecurity, and related challenges; and pursuing an international economic agenda that strengthens the UK’s global competitiveness and supports the welfare of its citizens. One of the most practical measures to achieve such goals is to channel foreign direct investment (FDI) to outward-oriented economies, not least those with potentially enormous upside. Boasting the fifth-largest economic output in the world and a very favourable demography, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must figure prominently in the calculus of UK policymakers.
Written by Hugh Stephens. As Canada works to develop and roll out its new “Indo-Pacific Strategy,” its membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has become a cornerstone in the strategy’s thrust of diversification in Asia away from China. This is part of a perennial concern to find new markets to help offset Canada’s high degree of trade dependence on the United States. Closer economic relations with Taiwan will likely be one outcome of this strategy, although China will remain an important factor.
Written by Saori N. Katada. For more than a decade, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been vital to the Japanese government’s economic agenda. This mega free trade agreement encompassing the Asia Pacific, originally negotiated among twelve members, has aimed not only at creating a large free trade area among the members but also installing the most advanced trade and investment rules in the region. After joining its negotiation in 2013 and especially since the 2017 US exit from the agreement, Japan has been taking a leading role in shaping and protecting this scheme. Finally, in December 2018, the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement of the TPP (CPTPP) came into effect with the remaining eleven members. Despite the US absence, it began to attract interest among others to join.
Written by Minako Morita-Jaeger. The UK government is currently in the process of the CPTPP accession negotiation with the expectation of joining the organisation by the end of 2022. The UK is expected to be the preferred candidate to become the first new member. UK’s accession would change the nature of the CPTPP from a current like-minded regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that promotes a rules-based international trade system to a cross-regional mega-FTA. This would create dynamism in the CPTPP for further expansion within and beyond the Asia-Pacific.
Written by Roy Lee. Taiwan has been preparing for CPTPP accession for the last eight years. The economic importance of CPTPP for Taiwan is critical, as it is perhaps one of the limited options available for Taiwan to avoid being marginalised from the Asia Pacific regional integration process. This article starts with a review of key policy rationales for Taiwan’s CPTPP accession, then analyses major challenges and impediments, and offers thoughts on future prospects.
Written by Sohyun Zoe Lee. In 2010, the United States (US) extended an invitation to South Korea to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the successful conclusion of the Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA). At the time, South Korea was rapidly growing as a hub of FTAs, negotiating multiple cross-regional FTAs, including those with big and advanced economies such as the US and the European Union. Surprisingly, however, it had refrained from joining the TPP. Meanwhile, South Korea joined another mega-regional FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), launched in 2012. With the emergence of RCEP, 2010 became recognised as the start of an era of the competitive rise of mega-regional FTAs. Moreover, South Korea reached an inter-ministry consensus in April 2022 under the Moon Jae-in administration. This is when it officially announced the government’s decision to apply for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TPP (CPTPP), the successor of TPP, after the withdrawal of the US. Against this backdrop, why is South Korea yet to join CPTPP?
Written by Richard Pomfret. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) evolution has been a combustible mixture. On the one hand, the CPTPP, as an international trade agreement that goes beyond WTO commitments, involved lengthy negotiations before consensus on the text could be reached and the CPTPP could be implemented. On the other hand, the CPTPP, as an instrument of domestic politics and of international relations, has been subject to dramatic coups de théâtre. The USA signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership after eight years of negotiations, but President Trump refused to ratify the agreement three days after taking office in January 2017. Both elements – careful negotiation of a legal text and grand political gesture – are visible in Australia’s approach to the CPTPP.
Written by Shihoko Goto. The momentum for Taiwan to be an integral part of the global economic community is reaching unprecedented levels. Taiwan’s ability to keep the pandemic at bay when the international community was first gripped by the rapid spread of covid in early 2020 certainly opened the world’s eyes to Taipei’s efficient, capable responses to emergencies. But the disruptions to global supply chains and the recognition of Taiwan dominating the international semiconductor manufacturing market have catapulted Taiwan’s economic standing. At the same time, growing concerns about ensuring the status quo in cross-Strait relations have only raised awareness of the fragile situation that Taiwan finds itself in. The question is whether Taiwan has suitably leveraged its advantages to ensure its economic prospects and safeguard its future.
Written by Jacques deLise. In 2000-2001, China and Taiwan entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). Their admittance to the central institution of the international economic order was, in effect, a package deal that became possible with the assent of the United States, which had been a last principal obstacle to Beijing’s long-sought membership. Two decades later, China and Taiwan have applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This arrangement emerged from the larger Trans-Pacific Partnership after the US opted out. The two bids face major challenges, including those born of changes in the international stature and posture of each of Taiwan, China, and the United States.