The US has ruled out a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan amid a dispute over beef imports, days after the nation signed a sweeping accord with China. \nPresident Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has tried to sell the landmark accord with China to voters in part by arguing that Taiwan would now be able to pursue FTAs with more countries, as Beijing would no longer object. \n“The United States has no plans to begin talks with Taiwan about an FTA at this time,” David Shear, the State Department point man on China-Taiwan ties, said on Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. \n“Despite our excellent relations, I am disappointed by the lack of progress the United States and Taiwan have made on trade issues” in recent years, said Shear, a deputy assistant secretary of state. \nNegotiations between the US and Taiwan on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) — often a precursor to a full-fledged FTA — have been dormant since 2007. \nShear said such talks would be the best forum to discuss trade. \nWith lawmakers from farm states leading the charge, the US has been pressing for years for lucrative Asian markets such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to accept more US beef, causing friction with the close US partners. \nThe countries imposed restrictions in late 2003 after mad cow disease was detected in a US herd. \nSome scientists believe humans can contract Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by eating infected animals’ brains and spinal cords. \nTaiwan agreed with the US in October to let in more beef products, but the nation’s legislature reimposed restrictions three months later after a public outcry. \nDespite the disagreement, Shear said he hoped the beef issue would not “overshadow” other trade and he stood by US security commitments to Taiwan. \nShear strongly supported the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that Taiwan recently signed with China and said that one of the goals under the pact should be to make Taiwan a more attractive place to trade and invest by lowering non-tariff trade barriers and by facilitating efforts by US and other foreign firms to base their regional operations in Taiwan. \nShear said that Ma had emphasized that he hoped Taiwan would be able to enter into new trading arrangements with other trading partners now that the ECFA had been signed. \nUnder WTO rules any WTO member is free to negotiate trade agreements with other members as long as WTO standards are met. \n“And we believe Taiwan should be able to do that,” he said. \n“We hope to see Taiwan become engaged in a broad range of international issues from trade to health to the environment. Taiwan has shown again and again that it can play an important role in the international community,” Shear said. \nWe strongly support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in all appropriate international organizations. Taiwan’s expertise can benefit the international community,” he said. \nAlso See: ECFA to lift GDP by 0.4 points: minister \nAlso See: FEATURE: Traditional merchants bracing for ECFA
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.