The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) yesterday urged the government to seek a trade agreement with the US, saying bilateral ties appear at their best in decades amid US-China trade tensions.
The US-China trade dispute is putting a squeeze on many Taiwanese enterprises, threatening potential shifts in global supply chains, it said.
“Taiwan needs to take advantage of the opportunities being presented by the economic and geopolitical shifts taking place in the international environment,” AmCham chairman Leo Seewald said upon releasing the group’s annual white paper.
There is no guarantee as to how long those favorable conditions would continue, he said.
Taiwan is at a severe disadvantage because of its lack of trade agreements with major trading partners, the paper said.
A bilateral agreement would facilitate cooperation by promoting two-way trade, encouraging more Taiwanese investment in the US and expediting joint undertakings in third countries, it said.
AmCham would be a vocal advocate if the government is ready to take bold action, it said.
Bold action requires determination on the part of Taiwan’s government to remove obstacles to a deal, notably the import restrictions on US pork containing leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, as well as some beef products, it said.
Though scientific evidence supports the US argument that these products pose no threat to health, Taiwanese media portray the matter as a food safety issue, making it politically sensitive, the report said.
The chance of resolving the issue would be elevated if it could be dealt with in the course of trade negotiations, it said.
An agreement would bring benefits to both sides, it said.
No matter how the US-China trade spat ends, enormous changes would be occurring in the months and years ahead in the way international trade is conducted, it said.
Many US and Taiwanese firms that have relied heavily on Chinese sources of production would be looking for new arrangements with new partners, it said.
With their longstanding business ties with US firms and extensive understanding of world markets, Taiwanese companies would be among the most suitable collaborators for their US counterparts, it said.
A trade deal with the US would help reverse the tendency of increasing economic dependence on China and give other nations the courage to follow suit, it said.
AmCham also voiced concern that next year’s presidential election could monopolize public attention and put a serious crimp in government operations.
“With the world changing at an unprecedented pace, that is a luxury Taiwan can hardly afford,” it said.
The political season would be constructive if it can focus attention on the economic challenges facing Taiwan, rather than on personalities and other distractions, it said.
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