Written by Ian Inkster. Liz Truss led her charge into Taiwan on 16 May with the notion of Britain backing a Taiwan move to join the Pacific trade block, the CPTPP, against the present neutral position of the British Tory government under Rishi Sunak. This immediately provoked the Chinese to label her ‘sinister’. The point being that this was merely a Trussian wedge into her major provocation, that there is a ‘fatalism in the free world that somehow a Chinese takeover of Taiwan is inevitable’. Dangerously, Truss seems to have failed utterly (and almost certainly deliberately) to distinguish commercial and political, even military, aggressions, and to that extent, the danger of such an intervention should, of course, be noted.
Truss Visits Taiwan: Worth or Trouble?
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Phan Van Tim. Liz Truss’s journey is in the limelight as the first ex-British prime minister to set foot in Taiwan nearly thirty years after Margaret Thatcher’s visits in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the worth of Truss’s five-day sojourn is a contentious issue. From one perspective, Truss’s visit is deemed immensely significant, exemplifying the UK’s unwavering backing for Taiwan amidst escalating Chinese pressure, given her enduring advocacy for a democratic Taiwan. But, conversely, others argue that her visit merely inflamed the already high-strung tensions between China and Taiwan.
The Rivalry Between Mainland China and Taiwan: How They View Each Other’s Application to Join the CPTPP
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.
Taiwan’s Catalytic Role for Resilient Development in the CPTPP
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.
The Political Challenges to Taiwan’s Bid to Join the CPTPP
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.
Global Britain Goes to Southeast Asia: Investment Flows in an Era of Great Power Competition
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.
Racing to Join the Club: A Canadian Perspective on the CPTPP
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.
Gatekeeper’s Dilemma: Japan Facing CPTPP Applications from China and Taiwan
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.
The Impact of the UK Joining the CPTPP: Its Strategy, Economic Merits and Domestic Constraints
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.
CPTPP Membership for Taiwan: Rationales, Challenges, and Outlook
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.
South Korea’s Application to CPTPP, What Caused the Delay?
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?
Australia’s Perspective on the Applications from the UK, China, and Taiwan to Join the 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.