Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - Page 13 News List

TIFA talks to resume soon: minister

Staff writer, with CNA

The long-stalled Taiwan-US talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will resume soon, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said yesterday.

“TIFA talks play a critical role [in our trade and economic plans]. Both sides have been meeting and negotiating very closely,” Shih said in response to reporters’ questions at a year-end press briefing.

“In the near future, the US will respond very positively; in other words, the two sides will resume talks before long,” he said.

The talks under the agreement, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, have been suspended since 2007 due to US dissatisfaction with Taiwan’s restrictions on imports of US beef.

Taiwan lifted a ban on imports of US beef containing traces of controversial leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in July this year, paving the way for resumption of the TIFA talks.

King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), Taiwanese Representative to the US, also expressed confidence on Wednesday that there will be positive news shortly on the resumption of TIFA talks in his first report to the legislature since assuming his post on Dec. 1.

In addition to pushing for the resumption of TIFA talks, Shih said the ministry is also actively working on free-trade agreements or other economic cooperation agreements, as well as participating in regional trade groups.

Taiwan is currently negotiating trade pacts with Singapore and New Zealand, while seeking support for its participation in the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The minister expressed hope that such trade deals and regional trade blocs will cover some 60 percent of the nation’s total trade volume by 2020. Given that current trade pacts only account for 5 percent of trade volume, “there’s a long way ahead of us,” Shih said.

“Just like Pi in Ang Lee’s (李安) movie Life of Pi, Taiwan is in an environment of loss, fear and loneliness. Now, we need to pool our wisdom and work together to overcome the problems we face in order to usher in a brighter future,” the minister said.

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