The US should sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan, Greg Mastel, an international trade adviser at the law firm Miller & Chevalier in Washington said in an article published in today's issue of the Washington-based Weekly Standard.
Mastel said Taiwan is the US' eighth largest trading partner and the fifth largest economy in Asia, and is therefore a much more promising partner for a free trade agreement than any of the two dozen countries with which the US is currently negotiating such agreements. He added that a US-Taiwan FTA would benefit US farmers and manufacturers and the US economy as a whole.
Mastel also noted that China is emerging as one of the world's largest economies and trading powers and is vigorously building a web of free trade agreements with its Asian neighbors which could effectively exclude Taipei from expanding its own trade with the rest of Asia.
Some have suggested that Taiwan could pursue enhanced trade ties with China directly, but many in Taiwan fear that increasing the country's economic dependence on China would effectively strip Taiwan of its political autonomy.
As the world's leading democracy, the US should offer Taiwan an alternative to dependence on totalitarian China, Greg said. Just as the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan has secured US military support for the nation, so the threat of Chinese economic domination of the country should prompt the US to offer an alternative to Taipei in the form of a free trade agreement, he argued.
Noting that Washington is now negotiating FTAs with Asian countries which have less to offer than Taiwan for fear of being shut out of the region by China's emerging web of FTAs, Greg said the US should, by the same token, also negotiate a free trade pact with Taiwan.
Greg mentioned in his article that Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (