President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed his gratitude to the US for the resumption of bilateral talks on the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and said that he expected the TIFA to help facilitate more talks on economic and trade issues.
“[The] TIFA is an economic platform. It’s not a cure-all, but a door-knocker. In future, Taiwan and the US can proceed with more negotiations on investments, tariff services and other economic issues,” Ma said when meeting with representatives from the Lions Club Taiwan at the Presidential Office.
Ma also emphasized that the government has sought to speed up trade negotiations with both Singapore and New Zealand, and reiterated his hopes that the nation could join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the next eight years.
“By negotiating with the US and China, we want to eliminate the obstacles in our trade development. We also need to create more opportunities, so that other nations will understand our efforts to strengthen regional trade integration,” he said.
Ma’s comments came in response to recent meetings between US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Taiwan’s APEC envoy, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), at the annual APEC forum in Vladivostock, Russia.
Clinton promised to send Atul Keshap, coordinator of economic policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, to consult on further broadening the US’ economic relationship with Taiwan. Keshap’s visit is expected to pave the way for the resumption of long-stalled TIFA talks.
Ma expressed concern about the nation’s exports, which have been declining in recent years, and said the nation must seek more cooperation with major trade partners, including the US, China and Japan, to improve the situation.
While Taiwan and Japan are still embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), Ma said the government would continue to seek cooperation with Japan in the fisheries sector.
Meanwhile, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are to focus efforts on trade in services as a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), he said.