Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Free-trade agreement with US possible, envoy claims

POSITIVE VIBES Chen Chien-jen, the top representative to America, remains optimistic but says that US officials still harbor their own concerns

CNA , WASHINGTON

The nation's top representative to the US said on Tuesday that there has not been much concrete progress on the signing of a Taiwan-US free trade agreement, but some US lawmakers have been soliciting signatures to promote such an agreement.

Chen Chien-jen (程建人) made the remarks when he met over tea with Taiwanese reporters posted in Washington.

He said the US Trade Repre-sentative Office still has concerns on several issues, including intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements, rice imports, the opening of the telecommunications market, as well as the examination and pricing of pharmaceuticals, which he said will have to await further communication and coordination between the two sides.

It has been reported that Washington thinks that Taiwan is not doing enough in carrying out its commitments more than one year after its WTO admission, especially on the issues of rice imports and IPR protection, leading the US side to delay talks under the framework of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in 1994.

Chen said that Taiwan has continued to provide the latest information to the US in the hopes that it will understand the country's efforts on these issues.

He said that after the differences between the two sides over the four major trade issues are cleared up, they can then resume TIFA talks during which initial discussions on a free-trade agreement can be initiated.

Then, he continued, the two sides can enter into the next stage of negotiating the signing of a free trade agreement.

He said the two sides should be able to resolve their differences on such issues as IPR protection in the same way they did in bilateral talks over exchange rates or turkey meat imports.

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