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Taiwan’s trade pact bid on track


BANGKOK: Taiwan says its bid to join one of Asia’s biggest trade pacts remained on track, after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese indicated that the accord was only open to recognised nation states.

Albanese’s remarks at the Asia-pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (Apec) summit in Bangkok caused a stir and prompted Taiwan to seek clarificat­ion.

Taiwan, China and the United Kingdom are among economies that have expressed interest in joining the 11-member Comprehens­ive and Progressiv­e Agreement for Trans-pacific Partnershi­p, known as the CPTPP.

“The government of Australia has since clarified with Taiwan that its stance on Taiwan’s accession to the CPTPP has not changed and that it continues to welcome the entry of all economies” that meet the pact’s standards, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“Taiwan will continue to seek the support of CPTPP members, including Australia.” Albanese, who has moved to stabilise ties with China and met with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, was asked whether Australia was now less likely to support Taiwan’s entry into the CPTPP.

“Our position hasn’t been altered on the first matter,” the Australian leader told reporters. But comments that followed caused consternat­ion in Taipei.

“The CPTPP is a relationsh­ip between nation states that are recognised. Taiwan is represente­d here because it is represente­d here as an economy,” Albanese said, referring to the Apec gathering.

“There is bipartisan support for the One China Policy. We support the status quo on Taiwan.”

Australian diplomats scrambled to reassure partners that Albanese’s government remained open to Taiwan’s entry into the trade pact, the Australian newspaper reported.

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