TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Australia, Japan, and Canada are reportedly working behind the scenes to enable Taiwan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group, but Peru is the X factor that could nix Taiwan's bid.
The Australian on Friday (Sept. 24) cited a senior diplomat engaged in the process of considering Taiwan's application to the CPTPP as saying that Australia, Japan, and Canada are "in discussions exploring a path for Taiwan’s entry." Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan told the newspaper that his country will "work with the CPTPP membership to consider Taiwan’s application on a consensus basis, in accordance with the CPTPP Accession Guidelines."
Tehan emphasized that any new member, be it China or Taiwan, must convince current members that they will "adhere to the high standards of the agreement, as well as to their WTO commitments and existing trade agreements." He added that it is "in everyone’s interest that everyone plays by the rules."
Tensions have ratcheted up as China appeared to sabotage Taiwan's entry into the organization by applying for membership on Sept. 16, nearly a week before Taiwan submitted its application on Wednesday (Sept. 22). A war of words has since broken out with China's foreign ministry opposing Taiwan "entering into any official treaty or organization," while Taiwan's foreign ministry said Beijing has "no right to speak" about Taiwan's application.
Given the group was originally designed as a counterbalance to China, the reaction by most members has been muted, with the exception of Malaysia and Singapore. Taiwan's foreign ministry pointed out that China's trading system has been widely questioned by the international community for not meeting the standards of the CPTPP.
Japan has been outspoken about its support for Taiwan's membership in the organization. On Thursday, Motegi Toshimitsu was cited by Kyodo News as describing Taiwan as an "extremely important partner of Japan that shares basic values such as the rule of law" and regarding Taiwan's entry into the bloc, he said that his country will act "based on a strategic point of view and with the public's understanding."
Ascension to the group requires the consent of all 11 members. One country that could scuttle Taiwan's entry into the group is Peru, which is now led by leftist President Pedro Castillo, who is seeking to expand ties with China, Peru's largest trading partner and top foreign investor.