Taiwan and the US are set to resume negotiations on economic issues under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) after a three-year hiatus.
The decision was finalized after a delegation of officials from the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Department of Commerce and the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) Washington headquarters met with Taiwanese officials in Taipei during a two-day visit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In a press release issued yesterday morning, the AIT said: “The two sides are working to finalize mutually agreeable dates for the [TIFA] meeting and are targeting late 2010 or early 2011.”
The two sides “began discussions about the agenda for the TIFA, and agreed to have follow-up expert-level discussions on a range of issues and initiatives in the months leading up to the TIFA Trade and Investment Council meeting,” the press statement said.
Led by US Assistant Trade Representative for China Affairs Claire Reade, the US delegation discussed the full range of economic issues important to both sides during the visit, including how to broaden and deepen the strong bilateral trade and economic relationship under the auspices of TIFA, the AIT said, adding that Reade “reaffirmed the importance of the US-Taiwan bilateral economic relationship.”
The new round of TIFA Trade and Investment Council meetings will be chaired by Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis on the US side and Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國欣) on the Taiwanese side.
Liang told the press yesterday that the US delegation also visited the Council of Agriculture Affairs and the Department of Health, exchanging ideas with officials on agricultural trade, investment, pharmaceutical pricing, product standards, environmental protection, electronic commerce, enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), medical equipment trade and industry cooperation.
Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director--general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of North American Affairs, said both sides made “positive progress” during their meetings as they managed to narrow disagreements on existing bilateral issues.
The TIFA was established in September 1994 to resolve bilateral trade issues and enhance economic cooperation, with both sides taking turns hosting meetings once or twice a year.
Since 1998, the US has suspended the bilateral talks several times to express its dissatisfaction with Taiwan’s slow progress in IPR protection, pharmaceutical pricing and the opening up of its rice and telecommunications markets.
The latest suspension was in July 2007, when Taiwan failed to strike a deal with the US to completely open up its beef market in line with guidelines from the World Animal Health Organization.
Last October, Taiwan agreed to allow the import of US bone-in beef after signing the Taiwan-US beef protocol, paving the way for the resumption of talks, but it was then pushed back after the legislature banned imports of ground beef, offal and other beef parts.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday said the resumption of the TIFA talks indicated that the beef issue has taken a back seat to other economic and trade issues of mutual concern that could be dealt with under the framework.