Facing China: Taiwan's Status as a Seperate Customs Territory in the World Trade Organization
Journal of World Trade, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 1195-1121, 2005
27 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2006
November 11, 2001 was a defining moment in Taiwan's diplomatic and economic history. In Doha, Qatar, on the other side of the world, the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) unanimously approved Taiwan's application for WTO membership, just twenty-four hours after approving China's admission. After Taiwan's Congress ratified the country's entry protocol and the government deposited relevant agreements in the Secretariat in Geneva, Taiwan became the 144th WTO member as the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, abbreviated as Chinese Taipei, on January 1, 2002.
Taiwan's choice of this tedious title in the WTO, instead of its official name, Republic of China (ROC), shows its reluctant compromise with political reality. Taiwan's trade volume places it among the top 10% of that of all WTO members. Nonetheless, it took Taiwan twelve years of strenuous efforts to enter this United Nations of Economics and Trade since submitting its accession application in 1990. In fact, most of Taiwan's agreements were completed by late 1999, but because of China's insistence that Taiwan can only accede to the WTO after its entry and because most countries were concerned about trade relations with China, Taiwan's accession progress was postponed.
Taiwan's accession to the WTO is considered to be the most important diplomatic breakthrough. The government believes that WTO will enable Taiwan to open a new window of the century and a window of the world. Part I of this Article will describe Taiwan's application to the WTO and its status as a separate customs territory. Part II will introduce how WTO membership benefits Taiwan. Part III will analyze cross-strait trade laws and policies of China and Taiwan. Part IV will examine interactions between China and Taiwan in the WTO and potential violations of international trade law they may trigger.
Keywords: Taiwan, China, GATT, WTO
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