US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will send a senior official to Taiwan in the near future to discuss ways of broadening economic relations between the two sides, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said in a statement yesterday.
Clinton revealed the decision during a meeting with former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), Taiwan’s representative to the APEC leaders’ summit in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sunday, the statement said.
Clinton said she would send Atul Keshap, coordinator of economic policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, to “consult on further broadening the US economic relationships with Taiwan,” according to the AIT statement.
The visit by Keshap, who concurrently serves as the senior US APEC official, is expected to pave the way for the resumption of long-stalled talks under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which is seen as a precursor to a full-fledged free-trade agreement.
Clinton expressed her appreciation for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) leadership in bringing Taiwan in line with international standards on imports such as beef, said the AIT, which represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
She was referring to the passage of amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生法) in late July that opened the doors to imports of beef containing traces of ractopamine, a livestock feed additive. According to the AIT, Clinton told Lien that the US was looking forward to Taiwan making the regulatory changes necessary to implement the legislation.
She also highlighted the value of greater engagement on economic and trade issues of interest to both sides, saying the US and Taiwan would now begin exploratory work and prepare for future expert-level engagement under the umbrella of TIFA, the AIT said.
Talks under TIFA have been halted since 2007 due to the beef dispute, which began over concerns about the safety of US beef following the discovery of mad cow disease cases in that country.
Washington considered resuming TIFA talks in late 2010, but decided against the idea early last year after Taiwan seized shipments of US beef containing ractopamine residue.
The AIT statement said the US and Taiwan were now taking steps to resume TIFA talks in the hope of expanding economic ties.