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Business association wants Taiwan to join CPTPP to remove non-tariff barriers

Countries replace tariffs with less obvious non-tariff barriers, hurting Taiwan's exports, says the CNFI

Taiwan has been pushing for membership in CPTPP, which accounts for 13% of world's GDP. 

Taiwan has been pushing for membership in CPTPP, which accounts for 13% of world's GDP.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan needs to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in order to help free Taiwan businesses from the pressure of non-tariff barriers, the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) said Wednesday (Feb. 9).

Non-tariff barriers replaced tariffs as a major obstacle for Taiwan businesses exporting to areas like China, India and Southeast Asia, the association of manufacturers said in its 2021 annual report on export barriers. Joining a trade bloc like the CPTPP and signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with its members would contribute to the removal of those barriers, the group said.

According to the survey, more than 70% of participating companies said they exported to Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and North America, CNA reported. If Taiwan failed to join regional trade blocs, its companies’ products would lose their competitive edge, according to the CNFI survey.

An importer in another country who saw they had to pay high tariffs for a product from Taiwan would think twice and prefer to order from a country which had lower tariff barriers, the CNFI said. While Southeast Asia posed the most serious problems in that respect, other countries over the past two years have been turning to less obvious non-tariff barriers to protect their companies.

Trade relief measures, customs procedures, and evaluations of product standards were the most common forms of non-tariff barriers impeding international trade. Inside the CPTPP, Taiwan sectors including steel, petrochemicals, textiles, and machinery would benefit from fewer obstacles to exports to Vietnam and Malaysia in particular, the CNFI said.

Taiwan filed its formal application to join the 11-member trading area last September, shortly after China did so. Commentators have voiced concern that if Beijing is allowed to join earlier, it will try and block Taiwan’s entry.