Official sees more cooperation with US

POSITIVE::US President Barack Obama’s re-election signals a policy continuity that should boost economic, trade and investment cooperation, a deputy minister said

By Helen Ku and Amy Su  /  Staff reporters

Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 13

Taiwan and the US will continue to work together and build on existing foundations to enhance bilateral economic and trade cooperation, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday, following US President Barack Obama’s re-election victory.

“The close relationship between Taiwan and the US has helped the two countries maintain active bilateral interactions over the past four years,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) said in a press conference.

“The result of the election is good for us because that means Obama’s foreign and trade policies will continue to be carried out during his second term. It will benefit the two countries’ economic, trade and investment cooperations,” Liang said.

Asked when will Taiwan and the US reopen stalled trade talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Liang said the ministry would continue to work on this front after Obama and new members of the US Congress take office next year.

US officials from the Department of Commerce, Department of State and Department of Agriculture visited Taiwan between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 to discuss details relating to the TIFA.

“We understand that the US is trying to improve its export performance by partnering with European and Asian countries under the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership and related free-trade agreements. However, we believe that the two countries have to know each other’s position first before moving forward to further discussions,” Liang said.

“Perhaps we can begin by discussing trade secret protection first, since both Taiwanese and American firms have serious concerns about it. We think the best way to resolve this concern is to legislate it and incorporate it into the agreement,” he said.

Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute (元大寶華研究院) president Liang Kuo-yuan (梁國源) yesterday expressed optimism about Obama’s win, saying it could accelerate the pace of free-trade negotiations between Taiwan and the US.

“Obama’s victory may help both sides maintain a harmonious relationship,” Liang said by telephone.

However, with the Republican Party continuing to control the House of Representatives, Obama may face more difficulty taking action to tackle the US’ fiscal cliff, further raising uncertainties about the US and the global economy, he added.

Liang said the US government might address this problem by passing a temporary bill, while leaving related issues to the first half of next year for further discussion.

Ray Chou (周雨田), a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Economics, shared Liang’s view about the difficulties Washington faces in dealing with the fiscal cliff, in which sizable tax increases and spending cuts will kick in on Jan. 1 if alternate deficit-cutting measures are not adopted.

Chou said he remained “very pessimistic” about the outlook for the global economy next year given the economic uncertainty in the US and the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.

Still, Obama’s re-election will have a better effect on the US and the global economy, compared with a Romney victory, as the US could carry on its current economic policy.