No sooner had the weary delegates to the current World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva taken a rest from thrashing out the final details of China’s admission to the world’s governing trade body, than they began the equally thorny task of ironing out the remaining problems for Taiwan’s admission.
China, which views the island as a renegade province, had insisted that it should be admitted to the WTO first. With that accomplished (See IJ Website Sept. 17) Taiwan’s admission would seem to be automatic, as its economic structure is far more in line with the majority of the world’s trading nations than is China’s. It first applied for membership 11 years ago.
However, the difficult relations between Taipei and Beijing complicate the situation. China insists that, as Taiwan is an internal part of China, trade relations aren’t within the scope of the world body, although it has had to agree not to actively oppose the island’s admission. Taipei, for its part, bans all direct trade with the Chinese mainland (except Hong Kong) which is in violation of WTO rules.
It’s expected that Taiwan will be admitted to membership in any case, but the WTO may decide, as it did with the U.S.-AIG/EU dispute to let the matter remain undecided for the present.
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