Regardless of who wins the upcoming US presidential election, bilateral Taiwan-US talks on signing a free trade agreement (FTA) won't see much progress in the short term, according to a Taiwan analyst. \nWang Chun-jieh (王俊傑), a researcher at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中經院), made the comments in the latest issue of a weekly magazine on the international situation run by the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD). \nAccording to Wang, regardless of whether US President George W. Bush is re-elected or Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry wins the presidential poll, there won't be any new breakthroughs in Taiwan-US FTA talks in the short term. \nHowever, Wang added that if Bush wins, the two countries will be more likely to re-open the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks based on the existing model. \nThe Taiwan-US TIFA talks have been suspended for more than a year due to what the US has called a lackluster performance on Taiwan's part in resolving key matters related to foreign rice market access, telecommunications services, pharmaceutical pricing, and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. \nWang also contended that economic exchanges between the two countries are expected to become closer and more frequent if Bush wins a second term. \nAccording to the CEPD, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan has suggested to the US administration that it resume the TIFA talks with Taiwan in late November and remove Taiwan from its "301 priority watch list" on the grounds that Taiwan has made noticeable progress in IPR protection. \nHowever, Wang pointed out that the hope of Taiwan and the US concluding FTA negotiations in the short term is slim, due to the sharp differences that exist between the two sides regarding Taiwan's market access for foreign rice. \nIf Kerry is elected, he is very likely to resort to the "super 301" in dealing with Taiwan to settle bilateral trade disputes, leaving no room for fresh progress in bilateral FTA and TIFA talks, Wang claimed, adding that Taiwan-US trade ties will become more tense with Kerry in the White House. \nDespite the fact that Bush and Kerry remain widely divided on the diplomatic, economic and environmental protection fronts, it is worth noting that both men have said they will stick to the "one China" policy, Wang said. \nAlthough some prominent figures in Taiwan have pushed for the US to review its "one China" policy, the efforts will undoubtedly be in vain, Wang said.
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