The US Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ APEC senior official and coordinator for economic policy, Atul Keshap, arrived yesterday on a three-day visit to Taiwan to further economic relations between the two sides.
Keshap is scheduled to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Security Bureau, as well as the leaders of Taiwan-based US corporations during his stay, the Chinese-language United Evening News said yesterday.
He is also scheduled to deliver a speech at an event hosted by the American Institute in Taiwan and an economic policy speech titled “How Taiwan Can Maximize Benefits from Economic Relations with the US” at a special luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei tomorrow.
Keshap is accompanied by Raymond Green, director of the economic policy office in the US East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, and Chris Beede, director of the office of Taiwan coordination at the US Department of State.
Keshap’s made the much-publicized visit comes after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a meeting with former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), Taiwan’s representative to the recently concluded APEC leaders’ meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, that she would send Keshap to “consult on further broadening the US’ economic relationships with Taiwan.”
The foreign ministry also said following Clinton’s announcement that the US and Taiwan would begin exploratory work to prepare for future expert-level engagement under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) umbrella, a statement that further raised speculation that Keshap’s visit could be a prelude to the resumption of the long-stalled Taiwan-US talks under the agreement.
Taiwan hopes that the TIFA talks could be recommenced in the near future following the passage of amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生法) in the three-day extra legislative session in late July that opened the door to imports of US beef containing traces of the livestock feed additive ractopamine.
Taiwan’s ractopamine ban has been regarded as a trade obstacle by the US, which has repeatedly hinted a resumption of the TIFA talks hinged mainly on the beef issue.