Taiwan would continue sharing its views with the US on Washington’s proposed “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday as it welcomed the US’ plan to re-enter regional trade discussions.
US President Joe Biden first proposed exploring an Indo-Pacific framework with US partners at the East Asia Summit in October last year.
Its aim would be to “define our shared objectives around trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, worker standards and other areas of shared interest,” Biden said at the time.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and other media have reported that Washington is expected to announce details of the framework in the next few weeks.
It would be the US’ first overarching economic strategy for the region following its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017, which it had helped design as a counter to China.
American Institute in Taiwan Director Sandra Oudkirk last month said that the framework is meant to be “very open.”
It would “bring together like-minded, market-based economies” to broaden and deepen economic relations, Oudkirk said, adding that hopefully Taiwan — as a major partner of the US — would be interested in discussing the matter.
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday voiced Taiwan’s support for the framework.
During their Asia visits at the end of last year, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held discussions with partners about using the mechanism to bolster economic and trade relations in the region, Ou told a routine news conference in Taipei.
However, Washington has yet to announce details of the framework, she said.
Taiwan would maintain close communication with the US on the objectives and form of the framework, she said.
It would also deepen cooperation with the US on issues including trade, supply chain resilience and infrastructure through existing channels, while promoting economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, she said.
Also yesterday, the ministry condemned China’s use of economic coercion against Lithuania and vowed to take practical steps to help after Beijing on Wednesday halted imports of Lithuanian beef in retaliation for the Baltic nation’s overtures to Taiwan.
The nation “solemnly condemns China’s continued use of undue political bullying and economic coercion to exert pressure on Lithuania,” Ou told the news conference.
Beijing has been pressuring Lithuania over its decision last year to allow Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius under its own name.
It has since downgraded relations and levied alleged trade curbs on the Baltic nation, for which it is facing an EU challenge at the WTO backed by the US, Australia and as of Monday, the UK.
In its latest move, China’s General Administration of Customs from Wednesday suspended importation of Lithuanian beef without citing a reason.
China is through multiple channels attempting to change the policy of mutual representation and strengthening of economic relations between Taiwan and Lithuania, Ou said.
As the EU has emphasized, this is a sovereign decision by Lithuania, she said, adding that Chinese tactics to pressure Vilnius have disrupted the global economic order.
Ou also thanked Taiwan’s democratic partners for speaking out in support of Lithuania.
“Taiwan will stand firmly with Lithuania and, together with our international allies, will take practical steps to support Lithuania through these difficulties,” Ou said. “We will continue to deepen our friendly and close relations with Lithuania, demonstrating the solidarity and resilience of democratic nations.”
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