Forty-two US senators across party lines have urged US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) to lay the groundwork for negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan.
In a joint letter to Tai on the eve of the 11th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) trade talks between Taiwan and the US on Wednesday, the US senators highlighted the importance of such dialogue with Taiwan.
“We respectfully request that you prioritize these talks and take steps to begin laying the groundwork for negotiation of a free-trade agreement (FTA), or other preliminary agreement, with Taiwan,” read the letter, initiated by US senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner.
The letter — which Rubio posted on his Web site on Wednesday — said that beyond commerce and investment, trade talks with Taiwan are of “great strategic importance.”
“We can all be confident that an agreement negotiated with Taiwan could serve as a model for what a high-standard FTA should look like,” the senators wrote.
“It will facilitate free trade under fair conditions that allow American workers, producers and companies alike to flourish. Advanced economies such as Singapore and New Zealand have paved the way by signing their own FTAs with Taiwan,” they said.
“Maintaining US economic influence in the region and reducing Taiwan’s dependence on China is essential to ensuring that the region remains free and open,” they added.
Prominent US senators who signed the letter include Senate Minority Whip John Thune; Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Ranking Member Roger Wicker; and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe.
In October last year, 50 US senators wrote to then-US trade representative Robert Lighthizer to urge the deepening of bilateral trade ties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement yesterday, thanking the 42 senators in the new congress for also supporting the improvement of Taiwan-US trade ties.
US Senator Chris Coons, who visited Taiwan last month, was also among the people who signed the letter, Ou added.
Wednesday’s virtual TIFA meeting was fruitful and marked a major milestone in Taiwan-US trade relations, she said.
Given the US’ bipartisan support for Taiwan, the ministry would continue to work with domestic government agencies to deepen Taiwan-US trade ties, Ou said.
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