Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) on Monday called on Taiwan and the US to immediately restart talks on a bilateral investment agreement.
Siew, delivering a keynote speech at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York, said the US was once Taiwan’s largest trading partner, but slipped to third behind China and Japan in the early 2000s.
Under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration Taiwan-US trade relations have made strides, and now is the time to restart talks on an agreement, a critical link toward a free-trade agreement with the US, Siew said.
He added that Washington should invite Taiwan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a US-backed trade agreement being negotiated among 12 Pacific Rim countries, given that Taiwan is a major ally of the US in the Asia-Pacific and a geographical hub in the region.
Inviting Taiwan to join the TPP would not only contribute to the US’ initiative to rebalance its Asia policy, but also be a positive extension of the Taiwan Relations Act enacted in 1979, Siew said.
The former vice president added that entrepreneurs from Taiwan and the US should start a CEO forum to establish a good communication mechanism and jointly tap into US and Asia-Pacific markets.
Siew said the cross-strait CEO forum was an example of how such a mechanism could establish good communication channels and give business leaders a chance to openly exchange views, seek opportunities for cooperation and enhance mutual trust.
He said that a Taiwan-US forum could invite between 30 and 40 business leaders from each side, and that they could meet each year to discuss cooperation in tapping into the US and Asia-Pacific markets.
At a news conference earlier on Monday, Siew challenged Taiwan to make good preparations to join the TPP.
Taiwan should be aware that its economy has been affected by its lack of economic integration in the past, Siew said, adding that Taiwan should make efforts to grapple with the new international situation, overcome difficulties and continue to grow.
Siew and Taiwanese business leaders arrived in New York on Sunday for a two-day visit.
Attending the news conference were Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東), Adimmune Corp chairman Steve Chan (詹啟賢), Formosa Plastics Group vice chairwoman Susan Wang (王瑞華), and TECO Group chairman Theodore Huang (黃茂雄).
Siew said it was the largest trade delegation Taiwan had sent to the US in more than three decades. The delegation will also visit Washington and San Francisco before returning to Taiwan on Wednesday next week.