With China's growing economic influence in Southeast Asia rattling nerves from Tokyo to Singapore, the establishment of a US-Taiwan free-trade area is becoming ever more important for the nation to retain its financial independence, according to an editorial in the Asian Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
\nFree trade with the US was high on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) agenda earlier this month, when he said that Taiwan should consider forming bilateral or multilateral free-trade agreements with Japan, Singapore and the US.
\nAccording to Chen, Taiwan needs to look into the possibility of entering free-trade agreements to reduce its over-dependence on China, a situation which could tip the political and economic equilibrium between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The president also said that signing such agreements would ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific region and peace across the Strait.
\n"Some politicians in Washington and Taipei now think a bilateral free-trade agreement is a way to improve Taiwan's bargaining position vis-a-vis [China]," the Journal said.
\nLast week the US took the first major step toward a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan when an independent government agency in the US held a hearing in which witnesses said the political benefits for Taiwan would far outweigh any economic benefits from the deal.
\nThe International Trade Commission, which recommends trade policy to the US administration, was told that US exports to Taiwan would soar if Washington negotiated an FTA with Taipei. It was also told that such an agreement would solidify ties between Taiwan and Midwest farm states, which would be among the main beneficiaries.
\nThe hearing also exposed how such an agreement would enhance Taiwan's position in the global trading community.
\nWith the tech market, once the crown jewel of Taiwan's economy, hit hard by regional competition, now is the ideal time for the US to boost trade with Taiwan, the Journal commentary said.
\nThe article quotes Antonio Chiang (
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