The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed a joint letter by 161 US representatives that urged US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to support signing a Taiwan-US bilateral trade agreement.
While the US and China on Friday last week reached an enforceable agreement on a “phase one” trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfers, agriculture and financial services, the annual meeting on the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the main platform for bilateral talks on trade, has been suspended since it was last held in Washington in October 2016.
More than one-third of the members of the US House of Representatives on Thursday issued a joint letter to Lighthizer, calling for bilateral negotiations between the US and Taiwan on a trade agreement.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times
The US’ Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) “has facilitated decades of economic, security and trade relations that have benefited the global community and increased the prosperity of the United Sates and Taiwan. With this in mind, we strongly believe you should work toward beginning negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan,” the letter says.
“As the trade and investment relationship with Taiwan already supports an estimated 373,000 US jobs, working toward the negotiation of a high-standard and comprehensive US-Taiwan bilateral trade agreement would further enhance our shared goal of enhancing the global competitiveness of US industries, while spurring American job creation,” it says.
“For the last four decades, the cornerstones of this relationship have been set forth in the TRA and the ‘six assurances.’ We strongly think that your continued work toward trade agreement negotiations would demonstrate our continued commitment to Taiwan and the region as a whole,” it adds.
The letter was signed by 161 US representatives, including Steve Chabot, Gerry Connolly, Mario Diaz-Balart and Albio Sires — the cochairs of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus.
It was also endorsed by US representatives Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services; Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security; and Eddie Bernice Johnson, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) thanked the US Congress for again demonstrating its strong bipartisan support for Taiwan.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has been promoting “a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy,” which advocates a rule-based international order that hinges on fair and free trade, she said in a statement.
Taiwan is glad to deepen its collaborations with the US, she said, adding that the ministry would continue to advance bilateral trade interactions and partnerships, based on firm and positive foundations.
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