• Kyodo

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Japan welcomes Taiwan’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal (CPTPP), Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters Thursday from New York.

Describing Taiwan as an “extremely important partner of Japan” that shares basic values such as the rule of law, Motegi said Tokyo will respond to the island’s bid to join the 11-member CPTPP “based on a strategic point of view and with the public’s understanding.”

Taiwan’s move Wednesday follows a similar bid made last week by mainland China for membership of the trade pact, members of which currently include Japan, Australia and Singapore. The unanimous approval of all 11 members is required for additional countries to join the deal.

Japanese ministers with responsibilities related to the CPTPP did not make similarly welcoming remarks when Beijing applied to join the regional framework on Sept. 16.

Motegi said Tokyo needs to examine whether Taiwan is ready to meet the high-standard of market access and other rules of the CPTPP, which was formally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The other existing CPTPP members are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam. Earlier this year, the U.K. applied to participate in the pact.

The United States remains cautious about returning to the treaty after its withdrawal in January 2017 under the administration of previous U.S. President Donald Trump.

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