World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/130

    12 December 1996




Singapore, 9-13 December 1996



Statement by H.E. Dr. Wang Chih-Kang

Minister for Economic Affairs

(Speaking as an Observer)

    On behalf of the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, I wish to congratulate Singapore for its successful arrangement of the first Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization. I would also like to express our gratitude for having the opportunity to participate in this important meeting.

    Despite the fact that the Chinese Taipei is not yet a WTO Member, there is no doubt that it is already a significant element of the international trading community. It will surely be benefited, if this Conference proves to be a success in moving world trade towards further liberalization. We therefore feel obligated to express our views which hopefully will contribute to the consensus-building process on the issues that this Conference is to address.

    In our view, full and timely implementation of the Uruguay Round commitments is the basis for us to move forward in constructing a more liberal trading order. Without it, the careful balance of interests reached in the UR will be lost, and the balancing exercise in the development of an agenda for the post-UR era will be made more complicated than it should be.

    For the same reason, the unfinished businesses of the Round should be completed at the earliest possibility, particularly in the area of the financial and other services negotiations.

    As to the built-in agenda, we would like to see the actual negotiations commenced only with adequate preparatory work. Particularly, for late comers like us, we would appreciate very much a preparatory process to help familiarize us with the issues and assess our own positions.

    In the area of further liberalization, we support the proposed Information Technology Agreement which we believe will help achieve the full liberalization of the market for information technology products. We would like to see broad-based participation in the process; and participants which may have difficulty should be given flexibility. We ourselves are prepared to talk to our trading partners on the related coverage and phasing issues, and would make our best efforts to limit the scope of our requests for flexibility.

    On the new issues, we think their inclusion into the WTO negotiation agenda will have to wait until adequate consensus has been formed. Working groups may be established for building such consensus, and for exploring the relevance of the respective new issues to trade in general, and the objectives of the WTO in particular. We would stress that at the initial stage a stricter test should be applied, in order to avoid overloading the WTO agenda and unnecessarily burdening the negotiators.

    It is worth noting that the existing provisions of the WTO Agreements have contained certain elements of the new issues; for example, both the GATS and the TRIPS provide room for dealing with related competition issues. Members may consider to start the work based on the consensus already built into these provisions.

    We come to Singapore this time with the hope that WTO Members will reinforce their support for our accession, an early accession. We have been working on our accession for more than six years. As most Members may recall, Chinese Taipei submitted its application to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in January 1990, and changed the application to WTO application after its establishment in 1995.

    During the six years and even earlier, we have carried out comprehensive reform of our trade regime, and reduced trade barriers to provide much greater market access to our trading partners. Our accession package negotiated so far represents a very substantial market access commitment.

    -    Our industrial tariffs will reach the level of around 3.5 per cent in trade-weighted average terms, and agricultural tariffs will fall under 11 per cent in nominal term at the end of the intended implementation period;

    -    all our trade practices will be brought in line with the WTO Agreements upon our accession, with one or two possible exceptions for which transition period will be negotiated;

    -    the most significant one is regulatory reform to reduce the use of trade measure to achieve regulatory objectives; particularly, the licensing requirement will be reduced to the minimum;

    -    we are negotiating accession to the Agreement on Government Procurement, and contemplating the accession to the Civil Aircraft Agreement;

    -    what is particularly worth mentioning is our commitment under the TRIPS and the GATS. Our protection of IPR has much exceeded the requirement of the TRIPS, especially in the area of border control;

    -    our commitments made under the GATS are comprehensive, and cover most, if not all, of the interests of our trading partners.

    Let me emphasize that full implementation of our accession package will make our market one of the most contestable ones. We are prepared to offer this package to the world trading community, but hope to be reciprocated with WTO Membership.

    Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to those WTO Members who have participated in our accession process. I would also like to note that with the support and assistance from our trading partners, our accession has made clear advances recently. The same momentum, I believe, is the key to our becoming a WTO Member in the near future.

    Once again, I like to thank all concerned for providing us with this precious opportunity to convey our messages to the WTO Members.