It is politics, not economics, that makes Taiwan want to join the World Trade Organisation, with the chance to sit at the diplomatic high table outweighing the risks to factories and farmers, according to analysts. At their biannual meeting in Doha, the WTO ministers will approve the accession of Taiwan on Sunday, a day after that of China. 'We have worked hard for the past 12 years to join the economic United Nations,' President Chen Shui-bian told an election rally in Penghu on Monday. An Asian delegate in Doha said: 'It is politics, not economics, driving the bid. Taiwan . . . was WTO-compatible years ago. It desperately wants international recognition and, excluded from the UN and other world bodies by China, it can get a measure of status from WTO membership. 'Economically, membership has nothing of the significance of that of China. The main result will be to bring down tariffs for imported goods, giving consumers in Taiwan a better deal.' The biggest impact of WTO membership will be to accelerate the economic integration of Taiwan and China. 'WTO will solve some of the problems of economic links across the Taiwan Strait, but not all,' Taiwan's chief WTO delegate Lin Sin-yi said. 'There are political obstacles. Direct flights between the two sides are not included in WTO.' On Wednesday, Taiwan lifted a 50-year ban on direct trade and investment in China and eased other restrictions. The dilemma for Mr Chen is how to balance economic security with demands for direct ties from Beijing and Taiwan businessmen who have invested US$60 billion in the mainland. Factories making shoes, toys and computer motherboards in Fujian and Jiangsu reap huge profits for Taiwan companies but pay no wages to workers in the island and little tax. 'The biggest pressure for WTO entry comes from Taiwan investors in the mainland,' said Thomas Chan, a professor and China specialist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. However, the main reason was political, he said. 'In its negotiation, it did not understand all the economic ramifications. It has lost control over the flow of investment. Chen Shui-bian does not understand economics. 'Taiwan has no future as a production base. The move towards investing in the mainland has accelerated rapidly in the past 12 months, moving higher and higher up the technology ladder. Its only future is to co-operate with China,' he said. Those in Taiwan who will pay the economic price of WTO entry include workers whose plants will be closed and farmers who will be unable to compete with cheaper imports from China. 'Many of these farmers are in the south . . . and are the bedrock of support for Chen's Democratic Progressive Party. Their sacrifice will make them more in favour of independence,' Mr Chan said. If Beijing did not claim sovereignty over Taiwan, the island would have been a WTO member years ago, after it met the criteria of a market economy. However, China's political clout and seat on the UN Security Council enabled it to persuade WTO ministers that it had to join first, forcing Taiwan to wait. As ever, names are a diplomatic minefield. Diplomats said Taipei wished to join WTO under the name Zhong Hua Taipei (Chinese Taipei), while Beijing preferred Tai Peng Jin Ma, meaning Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen and Matsu, the geographical names of the areas. The second is the more likely choice.