Old Trade, New Game: Taiwan’s Talk with Australia for CPTPP

October 31, 2018 Updated: October 31, 2018

By Bruce Hung

With an imminent promise of spring, we look forward to Australia’s second round negotiation in the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), which will be held early next year when the agreement has been ratified. And Taiwan, the world’s 18th largest economy in terms of trade, has a strong interest in joining the CPTPP.

Australia is an important supplier of energy and primary agricultural products to Taiwan. In 2017, two-way trade between Australia and Taiwan totalled 8.63 billion Australian dollars. Taiwan became Queensland’s 5th largest merchandise export destination. Queensland exported 2.8 billion of merchandise to Taiwan, with 1.5 billion in black coal, 387 million in copper, 258 million in food and beverage, 91 million in zinc, and 41 million in agriculture.

Not only in trade, Queensland and Taiwan maintain close bilateral relations in personal and culture exchange. According to a 2016 census, 15,588 citizens/residents in Queensland were born in Taiwan. And 73,000 Taiwanese tourists visited Queensland in 2017, contributing $208 million to the state economy. There were 5,230 Taiwanese students studying in Queensland in 2017, contributing $186 million to the state economy.

Australia and Taiwan share many values in common, including democracy, freedom, and cultural diversity. Over the past years, both governments have reached the milestone in their reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Taiwan also resembles Australia in that both have been trying hard to strike a balance between economic growth and sustainable environment.

As a leading force of the Partnership, Australia’s support for Taiwan to join the CPTPP during the second round of negotiation is crucial. Taiwan’s accession to the CPTPP will benefit Australia through increased market access opportunities in Taiwan. Taiwan also has advantages as a leader in semiconductor manufacturing, automotive electronics, and artificial intelligence. Positive developments in the future is going to further advance tourism and business exchanges.

Being a long-term ally of the democratic world, in return Taiwan will support Australia in its effort to grow economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region. As an old Taiwanese saying goes, “For it is united that brothers and sisters work to make soil into gold.” Taiwan’s participation in the trade bloc will help the two partners work closer to create regional prosperity together.

Bruce Hung is the Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brisbane, Australia

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.