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Taiwan hopes to join second phase of P4 talks

eTaiwan News

Taiwan hopes to join second phase of P4 talks

Central News Agency

15 November 2009

Singapore, Nov.15 (CNA) Taiwan looks forward to being included in the second phase of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (P4) talks, a senior official said Sunday.

Huang Chih-peng, director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, made the remarks after U.S.

President Barack Obama announced before attending a leadership summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that the United States will join the P4.

Noting that P4 is the only trans-Pacific free trade agreement that connects Asian and American trade, Huang said Taiwan will seek to join the group when more countries participate in the group.

P4 now groups Singapore, Chile, New Zealand and Brunei. Besides the United States, three other countries - Peru, Australia and Vietnam - are also in talks with P4.

"Once P4 becomes P8, we will explore the feasibility of being admitted to the group," Huang said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s representative to the APEC summit Lien Chan said at the closing news conference that the most urgent regional task is the formation of Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) to facilitate economic integration that will lead free flow of merchandise and capital.

As "ASEAN Plus One" (China) and "ASEAN Plus Three" (China, Japan, South Korea) will appear soon, Lien said Taiwan must speed up talks with China on the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) , a cross-Taiwan Strait version of the free trade agreement.

Lien also said Taiwan’s bottom line in ECFA negotiations is that its designation should be same as what Taiwan uses in the World Trade Organization - "Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu." Taiwan hopes that an ECFA deal with China could pave the way for it to sign free trade agreements with other countries to protect it from being marginalized in this era of regional economic integration and globalization.

This is the second consecutive year that Lien has attended the annual APEC summit on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou.

In addition to holding bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday, Lien also had close engagements with top leaders of other APEC member economies, including Obama.

(By Charles Kang and Sofia Wu)