Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (TDI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Lamy on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Olivier Dupuis (TDI) to the Commission
(13 July 2000)

Subject: Taiwanese membership of the WTO

The Republic of China (Taiwan), which is a model for its region in its consolidation of democracy and the rule of law and in its economic development, is still awaiting admission to the WTO.

What information can the Commission provide concerning the state of the multilateral negotiations on WTO membership for Taiwan? What stage has been reached in the bilateral Taiwan-EU negotiations? What guarantees can the Commission provide that the forthcoming accession of the People's Republic of China to the WTO will in no way delay nor block Taiwanese membership to the same body?

Answer given by Mr Lamy
on behalf of the Commission
(7 September 2000)

The WTO working party on Taiwanese membership met for the last time on 30 July 1999. The Chairman concluded that all of the main issues had been dealt with. The WTO secretariat distributed a consolidated version of the working party's report so that members could undertake the verification work. The Commission informed the WTO of the completion of the verification process on 29 January.

From a practical point of view, the accession negotiations have been completed. Taiwan's trade commitments for both goods and services are of the highest quality. The EU is also extremely pleased with the positive outcome of its bilateral negotiations with the Taiwanese. They have made commitments which more than satisfy the minimum criteria for admission to the WTO.

As part of the accession process, Taiwan and the Commission have also negotiated a bilateral agreement on market access. The agreement was concluded in October 1998 and submitted to the WTO. Tariff concessions will become "multilateral" on accession.

The EU has always been strongly in favour of Taiwan's early accession to the WTO. However, certain political factors have played and continue to play an important role.

Now that China is also on the point of joining the WTO, Taiwan's accession is closer than ever. The Commission expects that the WTO working party will soon adopt the report.

Nevertheless, the procedural arrangements for Taiwan' Protocol of Accession still need to be finalised. Both Chinese accessions are planned to take place consecutively at the same WTO General Council meeting, one immediately following the other.

In any case, the Commission is sure that Taiwan's admission will go ahead relatively easily since WTO accession does not raise questions of national sovereignty.