President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the nation looks forward to deepening economic ties with Washington through a new initiative — the Taiwan-US Economic and Commercial Dialogue — which is expected to be held “in the near future.”
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell on Monday announced the new platform during a virtual forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Tsai on Friday announced the government’s decision to ease restrictions on US pork containing ractopamine and beef from cattle aged 30 months or older, prompting skeptics to ask what the US would offer in exchange.
More than 80 public and private-sector leaders in the US — from political, business and academic circles — have expressed their support for Tsai’s decision, with many calling on the US government to start negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) with Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
During Monday’s forum, Stilwell was joined by Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) and Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Tsai wrote on Facebook.
Stilwell reiterated Washington’s commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” given by then-US president Ronald Reagan in 1982, as well as the US’ intention to boost economic and defense cooperation with Taiwan, she wrote.
Taiwanese are encouraged to see the US deepen its bilateral partnership with Taiwan through concrete action, she said.
Based on “more solid” mutual trust, the two countries would hopefully continue to deepen bilateral economic and trade bonds, creating a win-win situation and allowing Taiwan to play a critical role in the restructuring of global supply chains through the new dialogue platform and other interactive channels, she said.
The yearly senior-level economic dialogues would strengthen US-Taiwan economic ties across a spectrum of priority issues, the American Institute in Taiwan said in a news release on Monday.
Issues discussed would include reorienting technology and medical product supply chains, enhancing investment screening and intellectual property rights protection, and expanding infrastructure and energy sector collaboration, it said.
The dialogue is to be led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach, it added.
Tsai’s steps “affirm Taiwan’s global position as a reliable trading partner and will bring Taiwan into line with international standards applied by countries around the world,” it said.
Since its last meeting in 2016, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), previously the key trade negotiation platform between Taiwan and the US, has been suspended.
The new platform would be more efficient than the TIFA and is expected to be held “in the near future,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) told the Taipei Times.
TIFA was managed by the Office of the US Trade Representative, which even some US officials complained was slow in advancing trade talks between the two nations, he added.
While the new platform would be led by a US undersecretary, the third-highest official in the US Department of State, Taiwan would send a representative higher than the economic minister to head the dialogue, Wang said.
Washington and Taipei both feel an urgency to start BTA talks, he said, adding that easing restrictions on US pork imports would also be a step to lifting barriers to Taiwan joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
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