Sat, Jul 19, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US doesn't want `unproductive' talks

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Washington didn't want its high-ranking trade officials to lapse into "unproductive conversations" with their Taiwanese counterparts when it decided to suspend high-level trade talks on unresolved trade issues, the US de facto ambassador to Taipei said yesterday.

Douglas Paal, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), told the Public Television Station last night that the US would only consider resuming high-ranking trade official meetings when it considers these conversations would be conducive to solutions to several trade issues.

The scholar-turned-diplomat criticized Taiwan's efforts in the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).

"Taiwan remains a serious violator of intellectual property rights protection," he said in the interview.

Despite pertinent legislation that has recently sailed through the legislature, Paal said Taiwan still lacked what he termed an "enforcement mechanism" to implement these rules and regulations.

Washington was "quite disappointed" by the fact that the enforcement mechanism was significantly weakened before the legislation sailed through the legislature, he said.

The US was also concerned that Taiwan was not following its commitment under the World Trade Organization regarding imports of rice from the US, he added.

Paal said he's expected to see some "healthy progress" in resolving a number of trade issues between the two sides during the election period.

This envisioned progress will serve as a good beginning for boosting bilateral ties after the presidential election next year, Paal said.

On the issue of referendum, Paal reiterated the US stance by saying that Washington took the pledge by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during his inauguration speech seriously when he said he would not promote any referendum on Taiwan independence.

Every democracy has its own methods in dealing with its problems, and the US in principle would not oppose the idea of Taiwan holding referenda although the US "do have concerns" when the move touches upon sensitive issues, he said.

On the US arms sale to Taiwan, Paal cautioned Taiwan to heed China's increasing capability to threaten Taiwan militarily, in contrast with Taiwan's relatively slow progress in enhancing its self-defense capabilities.

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