Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Monday said that no member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) had expressed opposition to Taiwan applying to join the trade bloc.
"So far, we have not met any one country [that are CPTPP members] that has openly or privately expressed their objection to Taiwan's bid to join the trade bloc," Wu told lawmakers during a legislative session Monday.
Wu added that the government had been in talks with all 11 CPTPP members on Taiwan's possible accession to the trade bloc, with none so far expressing any objections to the proposal.
Wu's comments came after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Friday that the CPTPP was "a relationship between nation states that are recognized," when asked if Australia supported Taiwan's accession.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Albanese described Taiwan as an "economy," inferred by some as a suggestion Taiwan did not qualify to join the CPTPP.
According to MOFA, this interpretation is at odds with the CPTPP's charter, which states that "any State or separate customs territory may accede to this Agreement."
On Saturday, Albanese offered a slightly modified response, stating that applications would be "dealt with on consensus for economies applying to join the CPTPP" and judged on their individual merits.
At Monday's legislative session, Wu said the Australian government had made it clear to Taipei that it welcomed "all economic entities" meeting the CPTPP's high standards to join the bloc."
Wu added that following Albanese comments Friday, his ministry had reached out to an "authoritative Australian government branch," which later made the clarification on the prime minister's remarks.
The foreign ministry did not indicate the source of the clarification, and the Australian government has issued no public statement to that effect.
The CPTPP, which grew out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership abandoned by the United States in January 2017, is one of the world's biggest trade blocs, representing a market of 500 million people and accounting for 13.5 percent of global trade.
For a new member to join the CPTPP, all 11 signatories -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam -- must approve the application.
Taiwan applied on Sept. 22 last year to join the CPTPP, less than one week after China submitted its application.
Meanwhile, asked to give a timetable on when Taiwan could join the trade bloc, Wu told lawmakers that the CPTPP was now focusing on reviewing United Kingdom's bid and was unlikely to deal with Taiwan's application anytime soon.