Taiwan’s top trade negotiator on Friday signaled a desire to expand Taipei’s initial agreement with Washington into one that more closely resembles a free-trade deal.
Taiwanese trade officials are talking with their US counterparts about broadening the scope of an arrangement reached earlier this year, Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who heads the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations, said in an interview in Taipei.
“One goal is to expand the coverage: More topics like agriculture, labor. We are willing to talk whatever international trade regime needs to address,” Deng told Bloomberg News. “Second is the market access issue, that is tariffs. We hope that one day the US government is ready for tariff talk.”
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
There is no timetable for the next round of talks, he said.
Known formally as the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, the framework covers issues such as regulatory practices, customs and corruption, but it excludes anything about tariff reductions, traditionally called “market access” — thorny issues that are difficult to resolve, given tensions between the US and China.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has opposed negotiating traditional free-trade deals, due in part to opposition to past deals in the US Congress and a concern that such pacts in the past hurt US workers by incentivizing manufacturers to move overseas for cheaper labor.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has long sought a free-trade agreement with Washington.
Along with being a major economic coup for Taipei, a broader agreement more closely resembling a free-trade deal would be a political one, too, further solidifying US support.
Taiwan has been encouraged by strong signals of support from US lawmakers, Deng said.
He pointed to a show of unanimous approval in July of the trade initiative with Taiwan by a US Senate that is often been reluctant to ratify trade deals.
Talks are already under way between Taiwan’s trade negotiators and Biden’s team, led by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪).
Deng said that Taiwan wants to push talks “as far as we can” on a working level, before awaiting sign-off from each government.
One obstacle Taiwan faces in expanding its deal with the US could be the politically sensitive issue of migrant workers employed by the nation’s distant-water fishing fleet.
An estimated 35,000 foreign fishers — predominantly from Southeast Asia — often face mistreatment, a report by the US Department of Labor said.
The report lists Taiwanese seafood as a product of forced labor.
“Our legal system should be able to address that, but it takes time to change, to change law, to change practices,” Deng said.
Taiwan’s advances on accelerating economic dialogue with the US contrasts with the lack of success in efforts to join a major regional alliance called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The main hurdle to Taiwan joining that deal centers around Chinese objections.
China has also applied to join the CPTPP. New applicants can only join the trade pact with the support of all other members.
Deng said that Beijing has sent a clear message to countries in that trade agreement that they are only to admit China, not Taiwan.
Taipei has to be realistic that it might not be easy to join, he added.
Deng said a possible solution for Taiwan could be to form a network of bilateral free-trade deals.
“Society here has a fear that China is trying to isolate Taiwan,” and they have achieved that aim in “many areas,” he said.
“So to get Taiwan out of this isolation in the trade and economic area, maybe it’s a series of bilateral deals,” he said.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing’s (TSMC, 台積電) first wafer fab in Kumamoto, Japan is still set to launch commercial production in the fourth quarter of this year as planned, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said on Saturday in response to reports that mass production might begin ahead of schedule. TSMC said the monthly production capacity of the joint venture fab, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), is expected to hit 55,000 units of 12-inch wafers, using the mature 12-nanometer, 16-nanometer, 22-nanometer and 28-nanometer processes. JASM is owned by TSMC and its Japanese business partners Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp and Denso Corp, with the Taiwanese company
US President Joe Biden’s administration is in talks to confer more than US$10 billion in subsidies to Intel Corp, people familiar with the matter said, in what would be the largest award yet under a plan to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to US soil. Intel’s award package is expected to include both loans and direct grants, the source said. They stressed that negotiations are still under way. The US Department of Commerce and Intel declined to comment. The incentives would come from the 2022 Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, which set aside US$39 billion in direct grants as
German automaker Volkswagen (VW) on Wednesday said that it was discussing the future of its activities in China’s troubled Xinjiang region, following fresh allegations of human rights abuses. The Handelsblatt daily reported that forced labor might have been used to build a test track in Turpan, Xinjiang, in 2019. VW said it had seen no evidence of human rights violations in connection with the project, but vowed to investigate any new information that came to light. In an apparent sign of the growing pressure on the group over its presence in the region, VW added that it was in talks with its Chinese
A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that promises to create short videos from simple text commands has raised concerns along with questions from artists and media professionals. OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and image generator DALL-E, on Thursday said it was testing a text-to-video model called “Sora” that can allow users to create realistic videos with simple prompts. The San Francisco-based start-up said that Sora can “generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background,” but added that it still has limitations, such as possibly “mixing up left and right.” Examples of Sora-created clips