A curious fact about WTO: you don’t need to be a country to join. The basic requirement is sovereignty over a customs territory. That is, you have to be able to set the tariffs and local taxes of a defined geographical area. So ‘customs territories’ such as HongKong [once UK, now China] are welcome as full WTO members. Taipei [China] is also in this category as far as WTO is concerned: it joined WTO immediately after China. Another fact: members have a contractual relationship with each other. It’s not simply a joint enterprise like, for example, the United Nations founded on a treaty. It’s actually a contract in which each member exchanges specific rights and obligations with other members on a reciprocal, bilateral basis. But the hope that this peaceful reciprocity would lead to other exchanges between Taiwan and China is, so far, vain according to this “China Post”:http://www.chinapost.com.tw/business/detail.asp?ID=43063&GRP=E report of a Harvard study. bq. While most hoped that Taiwan and China joining the WTO would provide an opportunity for both economic and political breakthroughs between the two side, in reality, there have been no substantial developments
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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