November 24: Prospects and Challenges for Expanding Taiwan’s Economic Space and Accession into CPTPP

November 24: Prospects and Challenges for Expanding Taiwan’s Economic Space and Accession into CPTPP

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 from 9:00AM-10:30AM (ET)

Webcast Only

Event Description:

The Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) is pleased to invite you to a virtual seminar on “Prospects and Challenges for Expanding Taiwan’s Economic Space and Accession into CPTPP.” In January 2017, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the expansive trade agreement that had been a cornerstone of the successive US administrations’ approach to East Asia. Despite this setback, economic integration in the Indo-Pacific has continued to progress. Indeed, multilateral agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have demonstrated that a wide range of nations with interests in the region remain dedicated to cooperating on matters of trade. Now, following the revival of the TPP as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), prospects for regional economic integration appear more promising than ever. While Taiwan remains excluded from the CPTPP, it has formally applied for membership, along with the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China. As Taipei awaits a decision on its application, what lessons can it glean from the UK’s application process, as well as from its own accession to the World Trade Organization? What can the United States, European countries, and especially allies and CPTPP members like Japan, do to support Taiwan’s efforts?

Panelists will include Terry Cooke (China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia), Shihoko Goto (Wilson Center), Michael Reilly (GTI), and Riley Walters (Hudson Institute/GTI). The event will be moderated by GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao.

The event webcast will be broadcast live on our website and YouTube on Wednesday, November 24 at 9 AM (ET). Register for the event here. Questions for the panel may either be sent by e-mail to contact@globaltaiwan.org or through the chat function on the YouTube page. 

This program is made possible by the generous donation of The Ou Family Charitable and Educational Fund. 

The Panelists:

Terry Cooke was senior commercial officer at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 1999-2002, following Foreign Commercial Service postings in Berlin, Tokyo and Shanghai. Since retiring from the Senior Foreign Service, Terry has continued to work closely on Taiwan-related issues as a think-tank senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, as an instructor of a masters-level course at the University of Pennsylvania, as founder and managing director of the GC3 Strategy consultancy and as founder of the clean energy non-profit China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia.

Shihoko Goto is the acting director of the Asia Program and deputy director for geoeconomics at the Wilson Center Asia Program. She specializes in trade relations and economic issues across the Indo-Pacific, and is also focused on the political developments in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. She is also a columnist for The Diplomat magazine and contributing editor to The Globalist. She was a fellow of the Mansfield Foundation/Japan Foundation US-Japan Network for the Future for 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, she was a financial journalist covering the international political economy with a focus on Asian markets. As a correspondent for Dow Jones News Service and United Press International based in Tokyo and Washington, she has reported extensively on policies impacting the global financial system as well as international trade. She was also formerly a donor country relations officer at the World Bank. She received the Freeman Foundation’s Jefferson journalism fellowship at the East-West Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s journalism fellowship for the Salzburg Global Seminar. She is fluent in Japanese and French. She received an MA in international political theory from the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University, Japan, and a BA in Modern History, from Trinity College, University of Oxford, UK.

Michael Reilly is a former career diplomat with over 30 years’ experience, principally handling UK policy towards East and South East Asia, Ambassador Reilly’s final Foreign and Commonwealth Office appointment was as Director of the British Trade and Cultural office in Taipei from 2005-2009, the de facto British ambassador to Taiwan. Upon leaving Taiwan he joined BAE Systems, initially as Director, Far East, responsible for strategic advice on the company’s business development in North East Asia, before going on to serve as the company’s Chief Representative in China, based in Beijing, from 2011 to 2014. Ambassador Reilly retired from BAE Systems in 2015, since then he has pursued academic research, principally on the EU’s relations with Taiwan, but also on Taiwan’s railway history. In 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at Academia Sinica in Taipei under the auspices of the Taiwan Fellowship programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan). His latest book, The Implications of Brexit for East Asia, co-edited with David W. F. Huang, was published in summer 2018. He has a Ph.D. in Economic History from the University of Liverpool and a diploma in Korean from Yonsei University in Seoul.

Riley Walters is deputy director of the Japan Chair at the Hudson Institute, as well as a senior non-resident fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute. He was formerly the senior policy analyst and economist at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. He specializes in macroeconomic issues as well as issues on foreign investment, trade, and technology. Walters has appeared on national television and radio extensively. In the past, he has written for a variety of publications including The Diplomat, The Hill, Washington Times, The National Interest, Fox Business, and more. Walters is a former Penn Kemble Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy and a George C. Marshall Fellow with the Heritage Foundation. He was a Mosaic Taiwan Fellow with Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is a National Security Fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Riley attended Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

The Moderator:

Russell Hsiao
is the executive director of GTI, senior fellow at The Jamestown Foundation, and adjunct fellow at Pacific Forum. He is a former Penn Kemble fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia. He previously served as a senior research fellow at The Project 2049 Institute and National Security fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Prior to those positions he was the editor of China Brief at The Jamestown Foundation from October 2007- to July 2011 and a special associate in the International Cooperation Department at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. While in law school, he clerked within the Office of the Chairman at the Federal Communications Commission and the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center at the Office of the US Trade Representative. Hsiao received his J.D. and certificate from the Law and Technology Institute at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Catholic University’s Journal of Law and Technology. He received a BA in international studies from the American University’s School of International Service and the University Honors Program.

Event Summary:

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021 the Global Taiwan Institute hosted a virtual seminar entitled “Prospects and Challenges for Expanding Taiwan’s Economic Space and Accession into CPTPP” as part of its 2021 Public Seminar Series. Moderated by GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao, the event’s panel included former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Commercial Officer Terry Cooke, Acting Director of the Wilson Center Asia Program Shihoko Goto, GTI Advisory Board Member and former Director of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei Michael Reilly, and GTI Senior Non-Resident Fellow Riley Walters.

Hsiao began the seminar by introducing Taiwan’s place in the global economy as a free and open regional trading partner. Hsiao noted, however, that Taiwan remains marginalized, even as economic integration continues to deepen regionally. Hsiao then discussed the promising prospects of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Concluding his opening remarks, Hsiao asked what lessons can be taken from the UK’s application to join the CPTPP; from Taiwan’s previous process of accession to the WTO; and from the PRC’s promotion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement—as well as what Taiwan and its allies can do to support its efforts to join the CPTPP.

Following this, Goto focused her remarks on the past, present, and future of the CPTPP, arguing that progress on the agreement has been remarkable. Goto also addressed several recent challenges, from US-PRC tensions to the economic effects of COVID-19, which she described as being key factors behind the rise of CPTPP as “the de facto regional economic framework.” She then made the point that trade “is less about market access these days, and much more about economic security,” citing examples of increasing protectionism. Goto also argued that while CPTPP membership would not immediately resolve supply chain issues, it would provide a framework to unite countries through common commitments to transparency and efficiency. On the prospect of expansion of the CPTPP, Goto observed how accession has become highly politicized. After stating that questions loom regarding the PRC’s ability to demonstrate readiness to join, Goto concluded her remarks by describing the CPTPP as being “at the heart of the Indo-Pacific’s economic roadmap.”

Walters then began his presentation by citing participation in the WTO and APEC as precedents for Taiwan being able to negotiate its own trade deals. Walters said that while Taiwan’s accession to the CPTPP would be easy economically, it would likely be difficult politically. Walters further noted that Taiwan enjoys considerable economic freedom and imposes low tariffs, also expressing optimism that various market reforms could be negotiated with the CPTPP. However, Walters acknowledged that the PRC’s influence looms large, and that with regard to Taiwan’s application, CPTPP members would likely try to temper expectations. Walters also brought up the American absence from the CPTPP, arguing that even without American accession, the US could still use its strong relationship with Japan, Canada, and Mexico to help Taiwan. He stated that while the EPPD and TIFA represent “good engagement between the US and Taiwan,” he was concerned about an American “ad hoc approach to the region.” Walters finished his comments by taking a “wait and see” approach to US support for Taiwan in the CPTPP.

Subsequently, Reilly discussed the UK’s application to join CPTPP, calling the move “mostly rhetoric.” Reilly also explained how standards on agriculture and data privacy may prove challenging for the UK. Regarding Taiwan’s application, Reilly stated that Taiwan has been “too slow” in lifting restrictions on agricultural imports from five Japanese prefectures. Furthermore, he described Australia as an advocate for Taiwan in the CPTPP, but cautioned that upcoming elections may favor the Australian Labor Party, which may seek to ease tensions with Beijing. Reilly then noted that Taiwan does still have to take steps to reach CPTPP standards. He then discussed progress on Taiwan-EU relations, which he said has been slow. Reilly explained that while the EU has made pro-Taiwan statements, the EU Trade Commission is more reluctant to upset Beijing. He then concluded by stating that a business advisory council should be established to work on Taiwan-EU trade relations.

To conclude, Cooke began his presentation by examining Taiwan’s CPTPP chances in comparison with its WTO accession, which Cooke argued had “quite little applicability” to Taiwan’s CPTPP bid. Cooke said that while Washington was confident that the PRC would conform with established trade practices following its accession to the WTO, optimism has waned in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. Cooke later described the importance of the semiconductor industry, before highlighting the strategic risk of having the vast majority of semiconductor production located within Taiwan. Cooke acknowledged criticism of the Biden Administration for a lack of clear policy on the PRC, before retorting that President Biden has in fact been clear by holding summits with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping aimed at stabilizing relations, removing tariffs on European countries, and sending USTR Ambassador Tai and Commerce Secretary Raimondo on trips to Asia. Cooke also predicted that Biden’s policy vis-à-vis the PRC would be enunciated at the upcoming Summit for Democracy.

This summary was written by GTI Fall 2021 Intern Henry Walsh

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