The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is widely regarded as the economic component of the US strategy of “rebalance” to Asia. As a major trading partner of many of the founding members, Taiwan has obvious economic and security interests at stake and is therefore seeking to join the TPP in the next round. But an overlooked aspect of the TPP for Taiwan is its potential impact on sovereignty. Trade agreements provide a revealing window into the evolving conceptions of modern sovereignty. The way Taiwan’s unique form of statehood and international status is defined in trade agreements could strengthen its position under international law and contribute to its national security. This talk will consider how Taiwan was defined as a sui generis legal entity in its application to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and as a party to the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), with lessons for future negotiations to join the TPP.
Joseph Yen-ching Chao is an Executive Officer in the Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs. A member of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) diplomatic corps since 2005, he has previously served as a German-language interpreter for the Presidential Office, an officer in the Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, and as a deputy secretary of Taiwan’s permanent mission to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds an LL.M. from Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg and a Doctor juris from Albert-Ludwige University, Frieberg, Germany. Dr. Chao is in residence at Stanford from May-July 2015, where his research examines Taiwan’s prospects for entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).