The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its the Fourth Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Taiwan at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 12th and 14th, 2018. Our country sent a delegation to participate in the meeting and it was lead by WANG, Mei-Hua, Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs. Our delegation members included the Office of Trade Negotiation, Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, the Financial Supervisory Commission, the Industrial Development Bureau, MOEA, the Intellectual Property Office and the Bureau of Foreign Trade. Eloi Laourou, Benin Ambassador to the WTO and Chairman of the Trade Policy Review Body, presided over the meeting and Marc Vanheukelen, EU Ambassador to the WTO, served as the Discussant.
Trade Policy Review Mechanism is one of the basic functions of the WTO. Its objective is for ensuring transparency through following procedures: the WTO Secretariat and the member under review prepare reports, which represent the member’s development of trade policies and regulations. These reports enable other WTO members to understand the reviewed member’s policies and circumstances, and they provide feedback to the reviewed member on its performance in the system. Taiwan is among the top 20 trading nations in the world and is required to conduct a review every four years per WTO regulations.
Our Head of Delegation, Vice-Minister WANG, Mei-Hua stated at the meeting on September 12th and 14th, which included the following highlights:
- Reiteration that we support for the free and open multilateral trading mechanism and the WTO. We will work with other members to improve the WTO so that it can meet the needs of trade development.
- We have promoted the development of important economic and trade policies such as the participation in the CPTPP, the New Southbound Policy, the digital economy, and the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program. Among these, the New Southbound Policy is to deepen our country's ties with the region by strengthening the new economic cooperation model with Southeast Asia and South Asia.
- We will vigorously pursue a sustainable energy policy that will reach the goal of 20 percent of total energy by 2025 while encouraging investment and job creation.
- We pledge to assist other WTO developing members to jointly achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- We would not claim the special and differential treatment granted to developing country Members in the future rounds of WTO negotiations.
Following our statement, the Discussant, Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen made comments: He praised our good economic fundamentals for the past four years, with an average GDP of USD26,000, which has exceeded many OECD members. Faced with challenges such as labor shortage and innovative breakthroughs, we has continuously promoted free and open trade policies, including the participation in the CPTPP, the New Southbound Policy, Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, and the Fintech regulatory sandbox. Ambassador Vanheukelen has collected and organized written questions raised by WTO members, including mainly trade facilitation, review of foreign investment, inspection and quarantine, standard inspection. Ambassador Vanheukelen stressed that our country should speed up the formulation of the Maximum Residue Limits, press ahead of the trade liberalization of agricultural products and promote manpower cultivation and economic sustainable development.
In that trade policy review meeting, a total of 23 members raised nearly 400 written questions. At the meeting, 28 members also actively participated, enthusiastically raising questions or commenting on the economic and trade policies of Taiwan . Among them, the European Union, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and other countries expressed their appreciation for our strengthening bilateral economic and trade relations with them, and commended us for implementing the trade facilitation agreement and actively participating in the WTO Information Technology Agreement, Trade in Service Agreement, Environmental Goods and the initiatives of the 11th Ministerial Conference (such as e-commerce, micro-small and medium enterprises and women issues), and the promotion of diversified economic and trade policies, including the New Southbound Policy. They also hoped that we can aggressively address certain economic and trade concerns. The main concerns of the members include: (1) Simplification of the foreign investment review process; (2) Food safety should adopt international standards, based on scientific evidence and simplified procedures for Pesticide Residue Limits; (3) Agricultural import tariffs are significantly higher than those of industrial products; (4) Perform aggregate measure of support notification obligations in agriculture; (5) Fishery subsidies; (6) expansion of government procurement liberalization; and (7) Expansion of preferential treatment for products from underdeveloped countries.
During the meeting, Vice-Minister Wang also called on the WTO Secretary-General and the ambassadors of our country's major trading partners to the WTO to discuss possible cooperation between us under the WTO framework, and to conduct a fruit tasting session, promoting our nation's quality fruits to other WTO members. The meeting proceeded smoothly.