pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

Issues & Insights Vol. 04 – No. 01

When China and Taiwan joined the WTO in December 2001 and January 2002, respectively, there was a common hope among WTO members that the difficult negotiations that culminated in separate membership for the two sides would pay off in helping to institutionalize the very robust but largely ungoverned cross-Strait economic relationship. Though WTO members sought to exercise the important principal of separate but equal membership of the two, it was also clear that they expected that WTOinduced liberalization in both Taiwan and China would benefit their own economic interests, not only through liberalization of the two economies, but in greater predictability and openness in cross-Strait economic flows, including trade, capital, labor, and the regulatory environment. In addition, through fostering a “habit of economic cooperation,” the dual WTO membership might even help to mitigate political and security conflicts in Taiwan-China relations.