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Where's Taiwan on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

With the announcement on Monday that an agreement has been reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the controversial trade accord is in the news all across Asia this week. Taiwan is not one of the founding participants, but its leaders have reiterated their determination to join the next round of negotiations if the agreement is ratified and comes into effect. Taiwan's prospects for entry remain uncertain, however, and will depend to a great degree on the attitudes of decision-makers in the United States and the People's Republic of China.

The Taiwan Democracy Project (TDP) at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law has been at the forefront of research and discussion on this topic. In the fall of 2013, the TDP held a conference to explore the prospects for Taiwan’s participation in the TPP that brought together policymakers and scholars from Taiwan along with with leading specialists from other Asian countries and the U.S. The key findings of the conference are summarized in a conference report. The key conclusions of the conference remain valid today: it is in Taiwan's national interest to join the TPP; external obstacles to Taiwan's accession to the partnership are signficant but not insurmountable; and Taiwanese policy-makers need to worry about domestic obstacles as much as international ones in seeking TPP membership. 

The Taiwan Democracy Project will continue to monitor TPP-related developments over the coming months and plans to revisit Taiwan's prospects for TPP entry in a symposium in February 2016.