Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 4 News List

TIFA talks stalled over unresolved trade issues

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting between Taiwan and the US was not held in 2008 because of unresolved trade-related issues on both sides, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said yesterday at his year-end press conference, touting the second half of last year as a “fruitful period” for the ministry.

Ou said that issues such as Taiwan’s reluctance to allow comprehensive imports of US rice, fruit and beef are the main impediments to holding the talks.

The administration, he said, is carefully considering opening Taiwan to unrestricted imports of US beef after seeing the pandemonium that broke out in South Korea after Seoul approved US beef imports earlier this year.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesman Thomas Hodges told the Taipei Times: “The TIFA process is a key forum for the US and Taiwan to resolve trade concerns and make progress on enhancing the overall trade relationship.

“Although the pace and scope of TIFA meetings may vary, we look forward to continuing an active TIFA agenda as the new administration takes office in the US,” he said.

Ou said the administration’s “diplomatic truce” strategy had proven successful since it was adopted last May, citing as examples Taiwan’s inclusion in the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement and the attendance of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) at the annual APEC meeting last month.

Lien was the highest-ranking former Taiwanese official to ever attend the global meeting.

Ou also touted the last six months as a time of strengthening relations with allies and restoring trust with important allies such as the US, Japan and the EU.

MOFA has also developed new e-passports and added new consular offices around the world, he said.

Next year, he said, MOFA is expected to add new representative offices in Istanbul and Sapporo.

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