Fri, Nov 09, 2001 - Page 17 News List

US senator presses Bush administration for new trade deal


US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has initiated a bill to authorize the Bush administration to negotiate and sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Taiwan.

Baucus referred the bill to relevant Senate committees Tuesday after China and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations announced earlier in the day that they would pursue plans to create the world's biggest free-trade area within 10 years.

Congressional sources said the bill is of great significance as it came at a time when Taiwan was worrying about possible "marginalization" by China's efforts to form a free-trade zone with ASEAN members.

The bill will be binding if it is approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Should it be enacted, it may be known as the "United States-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement Act of 2001."

Baucus said the signing of an FTA will not only signify US support for its longtime democratic ally of Taiwan, but will also enable American businesses to enjoy more open market access to Taiwan.

Noting that Taiwan will be further integrated into the global economy following its imminent entry into the WTO, Baucus said a US-Taiwan free-trade agreement would eliminate the last barriers to US exports to Taiwan.

Baucus also said that US trade policy has traditionally envisaged support for freedom and democracy.

Baucus told his Senate colleagues that Taiwan shares common values with the US and deserves continued US political and economic support.

The US move to negotiate and sign an FTA with Taiwan will encourage Taiwan to continue its internal reforms and set an example for market opening and trade liberalization, Baucus said.

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