Background Information No. 080
On July 10, 2013, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and New Zealand signed the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC). In addition to positive reports in domestic media outlets, the international press also reported on the agreement. It was pointed out that the pact is significant as it is the first of its kind to be signed between Taiwan and a member country of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, it sets a precedent for Taiwan’s participation in regional economic integration, and it paves the way for similar agreements between Taiwan and its other trade partners.
Major press agencies, including the Associated Press, The Washington Post online edition, the Houston Chronicle, and The Vancouver Sun quoted Minister of Foreign Affairs David Y. L. Lin as saying that the agreement “will enhance the interests of both sides,” and “the deal was signed under the WTO framework.”
Dow Jones Newswire and The Wall Street Journal reported that the pact is Taiwan’s “first with a developed country” and “boosts its international profile and may help reduce its dependence on mainland China.” The article also cited Representative Elliot Charng, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington, as saying that the agreement was a “first step” toward multilateral agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and greater trade liberalization.
NHK News Web and Yomiuri Shimbun reported that this marked the first time the ROC has signed a trade pact with a non-diplomatic partner, and that the agreement could help Taiwan step up FTA negotiations with other countries. ROC authorities emphasize that improved cross-strait relations have been a contributing factor, a fact that has now been put to the test and proven to be true. The articles also indicated that enhanced relations with New Zealand, a member of the TPP, have increased the odds of Taiwan participating in TPP talks.
The online edition of Forbes Magazine pointed out in a news report that the pact was “Taipei’s first with a non-allied nation.” Without taking the trade figures between the two countries into consideration, “the mere fact that Taiwan signed its first trade-related pact with a [mainland] Chinese diplomatic ally makes the deal a big one.” Forbes suggested that it was possible an FTA with Singapore “would emerge quickly, followed by the start of negotiations for other pacts with Taiwan’s top 10 trade partners.”
According to a Reuters article, ANZTEC was the “first trade deal signed by Taiwan with a developed country.” Under the agreement, Taiwan will abolish tariffs and quotas on New Zealand dairy exports by 2026, while New Zealand will follow suit on most industrial products from Taiwan.
Agence France Presse also noted that the trade agreement was the ROC’s first with a country that maintains diplomatic relations with mainland China and that it “may kickstart the signing of a series of free trade deals” with other nations. The report quoted Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch, who stated that his ministry “welcomes such a great achievement… as we continue to promote Taiwan’s strategy to participate in regional economic integration.”
The New Zealand Herald also quoted New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser, who said that ANZTEC would “enhance New Zealand’s growth prospects through vastly improved links with a major Asian economy.” (E)