Wed, Nov 12, 2008 - Page 12 News List

US business chief says BIA is possible

STAFF WRITER

US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said the US should be able to finalize a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan by the end of 2010 at the earliest, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday.

He said that once US president-elect Barack Obama takes office and addresses economic woes, the US would have to re-examine its relationships with global trading partners, with Asia being a key focus.

Although it would take time for the Democratic Party to reach an internal consensus on the liberalization of foreign trade, it will be facilitated before the end of next year, he said.

“Taiwan will definitely be one of the major partners if the US were to resume FTA [free-trade agreement] negotiations,” Hammond-Chambers said.

He said that once the Obama administration decides its stance on FTA negotiations, it would be relatively easier for Taiwan, compared with China, to negotiate an FTA with Washington, given Taiwan’s higher levels of protection of labor rights, intellectual property rights and economic and trade regulations.

Negotiations on the two important components of an FTA — a bilateral investment agreement and a double taxation avoidance agreement — are likely to be finalized by the end of 2010, he said.

The US-Taiwan Business Council represents the business interests of many US companies doing business in Taiwan in the fields of national defense, telecommunications, information technology and semiconductors.

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