Wed, Dec 01, 2010 - Page 1 News List

US aims to deepen its trade ties with Taiwan: AIT head

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei chair Alan Eusden, left, shakes hands with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt at AmCham’s annual -general meeting in Taipei yesterday, where Burghardt delivered a speech on the US-Taiwan -economic partnership.

PHOTO: CNA

The US aims to deepen trade ties with Taiwan in areas of intellectual property protection, electronic commerce, customs administration and standards and technical barriers to standards, a top US official on Taiwan said in Taipei yesterday.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said the US would bring up these and other issues in the next round of trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in 1994.

“The US is very interested in seeking new ways to deepen our economic cooperation,” Burghardt told the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei. “We are currently looking at areas such as electronic commerce, transparency, standards, enforcement of intellectual property rights and cooperation in labor affairs.”

Burghardt did not specify when the next round of TIFA talks would be.

However, the AIT said in a press release on Sept. 30: “The two sides are working to finalize mutually agreeable dates for the [TIFA] meeting and are targeting late 2010 or early 2011.”

Taiwan is the US’ ninth--largest trading partner, with two-way trade volume amounting to more than US$46 billion last year, while the US is the largest foreign investor in Taiwan and the destination of 11 percent of Taiwanese exports.

Despite improving trade ties, the US remains concerned about Taiwan’s restrictions on the import of certain US beef and beef products, Burghardt said. The legislature partially reinstated the ban in January due to fears of mad cow disease after health regulators gave approval in October.

“These measures have been implemented despite our agreement last October on a bilateral protocol on beef,” the US official said. “Taiwan’s failure to implement this agreement has complicated our trade relationship by calling into question Taiwan’s reliability and credibility as a negotiating partner.”

It is Burghardt’s first visit after Saturday’s special municipality elections and he is slated to meet with some of the elected mayors.

The de facto US ambassador praised the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed by Taiwan and China and recommended that the WTO be notified of the pact.

“Now that the agreement is in force, we encourage the parties to notify [the] ECFA to the WTO ... we will be closely observing the ECFA process as it moves forward,” Burghardt said.

He voiced hope that the pact would help make Taiwan a more attractive place to trade and invest by facilitating efforts by firms from the US and other countries to base regional operations in Taiwan.

“If [the] ECFA is to be a truly successful arrangement, firms from the United States and other countries must also be able to benefit,” Burghardt said. “Hopefully, the pact will help stimulate an overall increase in the US economic presence in the region, including greater US exports to both Taiwan and China.”

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