The Republic of China and its relationship with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is one riddled with ups and downs, said President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday.
The president made the remarks after he met Honduran WTO Ambassador Dacio Castillo and his Panamanian counterpart Alfredo Suescum in the Presidential Office yesterday; this was Castillo's third visit to Taiwan while Suescum was on his first.
Although Taiwan joined the organisation in 2002, it has not made much progress in the Doha Development Rounds, which was a setback for the nation, Ma said.
"In the 1940s, there was no WTO nor the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) yet ... Taiwan was originally a founding member of GATT, but lost its membership to the People's Republic of China; we rejoined in 1966 as an observing member but lost our membership in the United Nations in 1971," Ma began.
After much anticipation, Taiwan finally joined the WTO in hopes of taking an important role in the global economy, engaging in more trade negotiations that called for trade freedom, said Ma.
"However, as the Doha Development Rounds - the WTO's current trade negotiation rounds - did not progress as efficiently as planned, all member nations are working to achieve free trade by using regional economic integration, which is a method that Taiwan cannot embrace due to its diplomatic difficulties," said Ma.
"Taiwan has signed free trade agreements with both Honduras and the Republic of Panama in the past 10 years, which were helpful to the trade growth in all three nations; we also signed economic agreements with New Zealand and Singapore last year. All these are steps taken toward free trade," Ma stated.
2013 Trade Agreements of Good Quality: Ma
The president noted that both economic agreements signed in 2013 are of excellent quality; they cover 99.5 per cent of the trade products in Taiwan. This is the first time the Republic of China has been able to sign agreements of this quality; the method would no doubt help Taiwan in securing a spot in the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Ma stressed.
Despite Taiwan's past turmoil in attempting to join the WTO and other global organisations, many have voiced their confidence in the WTO after its Ninth Ministerial Conference last year, Ma added. "We all hope for the global trade collaborations to progress accordingly; the Republic of China is the country that wishes to see the said progress the most," Ma concluded.