Taiwan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Preparing the Way

Editor’s Note: This East Asia Policy Paper was originally published in October 2013 as a working paper. Updates to the paper have since been made.

This paper provides an analysis of the benefits to Taiwan of membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), discusses why Taiwan’s membership is also important for current TPP members, and suggests steps that Taiwan and the United States can and should take to create an atmosphere conducive to Taiwan’s inclusion in TPP, should it decide to formally seek membership. In order for Taiwan (or any other country) to join the TPP an accession process will be required that is realistic and reflects the economic and strategic significance of the TPP, including the importance of growing the TPP to become a Free Trade Agreement of the Asia Pacific region. This paper discusses how Vietnam and Japan joined the TPP, what they needed to demonstrate in order to join and the economic and strategic calculations that underpinned U.S. support for these countries’ participation. The paper also overviews the outcomes being sought in the TPP negotiations in the areas of market access, rules and so-called cross-cutting issues and what types of reforms the TPP would require Taiwan to adopt should it join the TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership


The TPP was built on the so-called Pacific-4 (P4) ― a free trade agreement (FTA) between New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei that came into effect in 2006. In 2008, the Bush Administration notified Congress of its intentions to join what became the TPP negotiations. Australia, Peru and Vietnam joined shortly thereafter, followed by Malaysia in October 2010. Canada and Mexico joined the TPP in June 2012 and Japan joined the TPP negotiations in July 2013.

The TPP parties are aiming to complete negotiations by the end of the year. At the October 2013 APEC meeting, leaders stated that they are on track to completing the TPP this year – though it is likely that the negotiations will be finalized in 2014.