The US Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ APEC senior official and coordinator for economic policy, Atul Keshap, is scheduled to arrive on a three-day visit to Taipei on Sunday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the recently concluded APEC leaders’ meeting in Vladivostock, Russia, that Keshap would “consult on further broadening the US economic relationship with Taiwan.”
However, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Mark Zimmer said by telephone yesterday that there was no specific issue related to the resumption of the long-suspended talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on Keshap’s agenda.
During his stay, Keshap will have a series of meetings, including with government officials, and he plans to deliver an economic policy speech titled “How Taiwan can Maximize Benefits from Economic Relations with the US” at a special luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on Tuesday, the AIT said.
A career senior foreign service officer, Keshap coordinates US economic and trade diplomacy with the 21 APEC member economies, the AIT said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the visit, where Keshap is to be joined by Raymond Green, director of the economic policy office in the US East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, and Chris Beede, director of the office of Taiwan coordination at the US Department of State.
In a meeting with former premier Lien Chan (連戰), President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) envoy to the APEC summit, on Sept. 9, Clinton said that the US and Taiwan would begin exploratory work and prepare for future expert-level engagement under the TIFA umbrella.
Taiwan is working to reopen its markets to US beef containing traces of the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine after the issue, on which lawmakers in the legislature were strongly divided, was resolved by a vote in an extra session in late July.
Taiwan is hoping that the TIFA talks can be resumed in the near future since it recently began allowing imports of US beef. Washington regarded Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has implied in the past that a resumption of the TIFA talks depended on the beef issue.
The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but talks have been suspended since 2007, mainly because of the beef dispute.
Additional reporting by CNA