Taiwanese and US officials met in Washington on Thursday for a day-long seminar in what could be the first stage in a long process of hammering out a free-trade agreement (FTA). \nThe seminar at the Brookings Institution was arranged by Richard Bush, who left his job as head of the American Institute in Taiwan in January to become the director of Brookings' Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. \nThe nearly nine-hour seminar featured 18 presentations by officials and trade specialists, in what is expected to form the basis of future efforts to bring Taipei and Washington together in an FTA. \nThe meeting was closed to the press. \nWhile Taiwan has eagerly sought an FTA, which would solidify both economic and political ties between the two sides, the George W. Bush administration has been leery about it. \nIt is believed that Thursday's seminar is the first time official representatives from both sides sat down together to discuss the issue, although the seminar was a private event. \nAttendees from Taipei included Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steven Chen; Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) chief Chen Chien-jen (程建人), Chunghua Institution for Eco-nomic Research Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Liu Da-Nien of the institute, Chan Mignon of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research and Ko Chen-en of the Taiwan Think Tank. \nUS participants included Assistant US Trade Representative for North Asian Affairs Wendy Cutler; David Spooner, chief USTR textile negotiator; US International Trade Commission operations director Robert Rogowsky and Tim Skud, deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for regulatory, tariffs and trade enforcement. \nIn addition to the seminar, Shen and his delegation are expected to meet with US officials on trade issues and with others in Washington before leaving this weekend. \nAdministration officials have been telling Taiwanese officials and legislators for several months that an FTA would be delayed because of existing trade disputes between the two and because of Chinese opposition to such an agreement. \nTECRO's Chen told the Legislative Yuan during a recent trip to Taipei that work on an FTA could not start until 2004 at the earliest, depending on resolution of dis-agreements on Taiwan's compliance with its WTO commitments and on China's views. \nEven after preparations and negotiations start, it could take many years before a deal is finalized. Washington and Chile just this week entered into a FTA after 10 years of talks, although officials here do not think a Taiwan FTA would take quite that long. \n"There are still a significant number or bilateral trade disputes" between Taiwan and Washington, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-ROC Business Council, a private business group that promotes bilateral trade. \n"In principle, a US-Taiwan FTA is a good idea, but Taiwan has some major roadblocks in its trade relations with the US that are holding up this process. And, until they are addressed, it's going to continue that way," he said. He called Chen's 2004 timeline "very realistic." \nWhile the administration has not been enthusiastic, congressional free-trade supporters have been pushing for an agreement. \nLast January, the then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, and the ranking Republican, Senator Charles Grassley, urged the administration to have the International Trade Commission write a report on the impact of an FTA with Taiwan. \nThat report, which came out last summer, was generally positive, although it did not make any recommendations.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
SEEKING OPTIONS: A Sinyi Realty corporate realty official attributed the spike to proposed legal changes in the territory and the ongoing pro-democracy protests More Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Taiwan last year than other foreigners, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed. The ministry attributed the spike to a proposed extradition law that the Hong Kong government submitted last year, which would have allowed suspects to be sent to China and other nations, which sparked mass protests that are continuing. The rate of purchases last year by Hong Kong natural and juridical persons stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively, with building area purchased by both standing at 47.41 percent and 52.59 percent respectively, ministry data showed. Department of Land Administration statistics showed that Hong Kongers
ZERO TOLERANCE: National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin said that he ordered Kaohsiung police to investigate reports of planned voter intimidation Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) yesterday denounced the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for asking people not to vote in a recall poll against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), while National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) called on police to follow up on reports that gangsters are planning to intimidate voters. Yen said that in an effort to save Han, the KMT has mobilized all of its members, who have increasingly tried to prevent Kaohsiung residents from exercising their right to vote in the poll on Saturday next week. She called on Kaohsiung residents to have the courage
Taipei is to reopen public facilities starting on Monday next week under three conditions, and allow indoor and outdoor events with fewer than 250 and 1,000 people respectively, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) yesterday. The three conditions are practicing social distancing measures or wearing a mask if the proper distance cannot be kept, enforcing a real-name registration system for indoor activities and prohibiting meal sharing, Huang said. All municipal facilities would resume operations under those principles, with the exception of school campuses, she said. School campuses at high-school level and below would remain closed to the public to protect student health, but