by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President-elect Tsai Ing-wen said Wednesday that her Cabinet would form a special office for foreign trade negotiations as Taiwan prepared to join more trade groups.
Tsai made the remark after the Central Standing Committee of the Democratic Progressive Party, which she chairs, heard a report about the need for legal changes in the run-up to Taiwan’s eventual participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
The DPP had already made the necessary internal preparations for the expansion of foreign trade, Tsai said, naming the formation of a TPP taskforce headed by former Finance Minister Lin Chuan, who is often tipped to become premier when Tsai is sworn in on May 20.
The Cabinet’s special office would be set up as soon as possible after that, and it would first focus on the preparation of bilateral Free Trade Agreements, the president-elect reportedly said. Regional economic and trade accords would also fall under its authority, as would the government’s expected “Southward Policy” to seek closer contacts with Southeast Asia.
Tsai said the new government would have to focus on reforming and upgrading the country’s economic structure while seeking to join TPP even though it could not fully participate in all regional and international organizations.
Tsai is a former trade negotiator herself, and has promised to reduce the threat of overdependence on China for the Taiwanese economy.