Sat, May 27, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan, US agree on TIFA issues

BILATERAL FRAMEWORK Expressing confidence about future talks, negotiators said the most significant progress was made on the subject of intellectual property rights

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan and the US announced consensus on numerous bilateral issues, which include intellectual property rights (IPR), after the conclusion of the fifth round of talks under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

"We touched on a full range of bilateral economic issues and are seeking to expand our areas of cooperation. We had a very robust agenda for TIFA and achieved productive talks on almost every area," Deputy US Trade Representative Karan Bhatia told reporters after the closing of the talks yesterday.

"We came into this meeting with a strong US-Taiwan economic relationship, and we concluded the meeting with an even stronger relationship going forward," he said.

A new level of agreement has been achieved in some areas, while both parties have mapped out plans for future solutions to the remaining problems, Bhatia said.

Issues discussed at the two-day meeting included agriculture, pharmaceuticals, IPR enforcement and telecommunications regulations.

The progress made on intellectual property rights was hailed as one of the more successful conclusions.

In the past, the question of intellectual property rights had been one of the most difficult areas to resolve, but the situation changed at the latest meeting, Bhatia said.

Both sides agreed to hold a consultation meeting twice a year which will serve as a mechanism to advance cooperation on IPR, he said.

The US has expressed great concern over IPR infringements, especially on the Internet and school campuses, and requested that Taiwan set up laws to regulate Internet service providers to protect intellectual property.

In January last year, the Office of the US Trade Representative removed Taiwan from the US' "Special 301" Priority Watch List -- on which Taiwan had been listed for four -- and placed the nation on the less stringent Watch List, in recognition of its improvement in protecting intellectual property rights.

In terms of agricultural exchanges, both sides agreed in principle to establish an agriculture council, which will create a high-level forum to address a full range of agricultural and trade issues, he said.

According to Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), who served as Taiwan's chief negotiator for the talks, the nation has requested that exports of locally produced fruits such as pomelos and longans to the US should be permitted.

Taiwanese negotiators also raised the issue of allowing greater cooperation with the US in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), as local businesses have strong business ties in Africa, Chen said.

AGOA is a trade promotion initiated by the US which benefits 37 sub-Saharan countries by abolishing duties and quotas on exports to the US.

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