TRADE POLICY REVIEW:

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

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See also:
Trade Policy Review: Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu
  

This second Trade Policy Review of Chinese Taipei has enabled us to improve our understanding of recent developments in its trade and related policies, and the challenges it now faces. Our discussion has clearly benefited from the active participation of the Chinese Taipei delegation, led by Mr. Sheng-Chung Lin, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, as well as from the contribution of our discussant, Mr. John Clarke, Chargé d'Affaires of the EU, and the numerous interventions by Members. Chinese Taipei's prompt response to the large number of questions was very much appreciated.

Members congratulated Chinese Taipei on its successful outward-oriented development strategy, which had brought about economic growth and thus prosperity. They praised Chinese Taipei for avoiding protectionist measures in response to the recent economic downturn caused by the global financial crisis. Members commended Chinese Taipei for responding appropriately by implementing fiscal and monetary stimulus. They welcomed the economy's strong recovery already under way in 2010. Members also acknowledged Chinese Taipei's generally open trade and investment regime, and welcomed its pursuit of further trade liberalization during the review period, particularly in the services sector, as well as its achievements in the areas of regulatory reform and transparency.

Members noted that Chinese Taipei remains heavily dependent on a few manufactured exports and that this left it vulnerable to sharp contractions in global demand, such as had occurred in 2008-09. They were interested in knowing how Chinese Taipei intends to diversify its economy and promote the development of the services sector and high-tech manufacturing as the new engines of economic growth. Members were also interested to hear from Chinese Taipei of any plans it might have for further structural reforms aimed, for example, at focussing more on domestic demand, stepping up privatization, and improving the investment climate, so as to ensure sustained growth.

Members commended Chinese Taipei for, and sought more information on the recently concluded Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China. They applauded Chinese Taipei's active participation in WTO work and in furthering the ongoing multilateral trade negotiations agenda in many areas. Members were also pleased with Chinese Taipei's continuous efforts to align its trade policies to WTO commitments, particularly its recent accession to the Government Procurement Agreement. Members encouraged Chinese Taipei to make commitments commensurate with its current level of development in line with its WTO accession undertakings. Members expressed their appreciation of Chinese Taipei's work and support in the areas of aid for trade, trade facilitation and trade-related technical assistance.

While acknowledging Chinese Taipei's open trade regime, Members noted the lack of tariff reductions during the review period as well as the complex tariff structure and high rates on certain agricultural products. They encouraged improvements in this area. Members expressed concern over, inter alia, the low and falling share of domestic standards aligned to international standards. Members raised questions on Chinese Taipei's SPS regime. Members commended improved protection of intellectual property rights; nevertheless, some urged Chinese Taipei to step up its enforcement efforts in certain areas such as internet piracy, illegal text copying, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Members noted that against the background of continuing liberalization in other sectors, and despite its minor role in Chinese Taipei's economy, agriculture continues to receive significant protection in the form of high tariffs mostly non-ad valorem tariffs, which tend to conceal relatively high rates of protection, tariff-rate quotas, special safeguard measures, and several domestic support measures. In this respect, Members urged Chinese Taipei to step up efforts to further liberalize its agricultural sector by, inter alia, simplifying the tariff and making it more transparent by using ad valorem rates, and reducing trade distorting support measures. Members also encouraged Chinese Taipei to introduce stronger disciplines in the area of fisheries subsidies, including the elimination of those subsidies that contribute to over-fishing. As regards the manufacturing sector, Members inquired about the specific nature of the incentives provided under the recently enacted Statute for Industrial Innovation.

Members acknowledged Chinese Taipei's continued steps during the review period to liberalize trade in services and improve the sector's regulatory framework. Nonetheless, they noted that several informal barriers and investment restrictions were still in place in certain subsectors, while in others government intervention remained substantial. Hence, Members encouraged Chinese Taipei to undertake further liberalization in areas such as financial services, telecommunications, and transport services, and to incorporate unilateral liberalization measures already undertaken into future offers in the services negotiations. Members also inquired about Chinese Taipei's strategy to increase the competitiveness of its services, and about concrete plans to develop healthcare as well as cultural services. Members invited Chinese Taipei to review remaining restrictions in areas such as qualification and licensing requirements.

This successfully concludes our second Review of Chinese Taipei. The large number of advance questions and the many interventions indicate the important role Chinese Taipei plays at the WTO. I would once again like to thank the Chinese Taipei delegation for their efforts, the discussant for his comments, and Members for contributing to what has been a very enlightening two days of discussions.

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