Taiwanese-Canadian business leaders in Toronto are calling on the federal government to support Taiwan in its bid to join the Pacific Rim trade pact.
On Friday afternoon, the Taiwan Merchants Association of Toronto and the Toronto Chinese Traders Association hosted an event in Markham to support Taiwan’s membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted some to draw comparisons to Taiwan’s relationship with China and to speculate that the crisis in Ukraine may prompt similar actions from China toward Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan as part of its state, even though Taiwan is self-governing and a full World Trade Organization member, and has engaged in military intimidation of the island state.
China and Taiwan applied to join CPTPP in September; China opposed Taiwan’s candidacy. The pact includes Canada, Australia, Japan, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Jin-Ling Chen, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Toronto, said the Taiwanese-Canadian business community has been advocating for Canada to support Taiwan’s bid for the CPTPP since September. Taiwan is an export-oriented economy, she said, and a quarter of its total trade is with CPTPP members.
In 2020, Canada imported over $5 billion worth of products from Taiwan and exported approximately $1.7 billion to Taiwan. Taiwan is a major player in the semiconductor industry, making it an important trading partner for a wide variety of products, including smartphones and cars. Meanwhile, Taiwan imports agricultural products, raw materials and cars from Canada, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Canada’s public support would greatly increase Taiwan’s chances of joining the CPTPP, Chen said in an interview ahead of the event.
“We know that Canada … is very supportive of Taiwan,” she said.
Canada has not publicly supported either country’s bid to join the pact, but in early January International Trade Minister Mary Ng announced that Canada would seek a foreign investment protection with Taiwan amid ongoing tensions between the country and China. Canada has been trying to diversify its Indo-Pacific trade relations since the Meng Wanzhou-two Michaels case.
Friday afternoon’s event brought together business leaders from several sectors, including banking, commerce and construction. MP Melissa Lantsman was also present.
At the event, Chen said Taiwan’s inclusion in the CPTPP could increase Canada’s exports to Taiwan, especially in the agricultural and food products sector. Taiwan is determined to join the CPTPP, she said, and has begun to introduce new measures in line with the CPTPP’s commitments.
Timo Yu, one of the event coordinators and CEO of Wen Ho of Canada Ltd., said Taiwan’s participation in the CPTPP will not only benefit Taiwan, but also Canada, by increasing business opportunities and lowering import duties.
Fred Wang, president of H&W Development Corp., agrees.
Wang said he believes the CPTPP will benefit Taiwanese-Canadian businesses and relations between the two countries. The pact involves countries that have common values, he said, on democracy and human rights.
Experts backed Canada’s move to improve trade relations with Taiwan, but also noted that if Canada categorically backed Taiwan’s bid to join the CPTPP, China might get angry. However, last fall, trade analysts said Canada should strongly oppose China’s request to join the CPTPP.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
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