Taiwanese and US officials met in Washington on Thursday for a day-long seminar in what could be the first stage in a long process of hammering out a free-trade agreement (FTA). \nThe seminar at the Brookings Institution was arranged by Richard Bush, who left his job as head of the American Institute in Taiwan in January to become the director of Brookings' Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. \nThe nearly nine-hour seminar featured 18 presentations by officials and trade specialists, in what is expected to form the basis of future efforts to bring Taipei and Washington together in an FTA. \nThe meeting was closed to the press. \nWhile Taiwan has eagerly sought an FTA, which would solidify both economic and political ties between the two sides, the George W. Bush administration has been leery about it. \nIt is believed that Thursday's seminar is the first time official representatives from both sides sat down together to discuss the issue, although the seminar was a private event. \nAttendees from Taipei included Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steven Chen; Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) chief Chen Chien-jen (程建人), Chunghua Institution for Eco-nomic Research Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Liu Da-Nien of the institute, Chan Mignon of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research and Ko Chen-en of the Taiwan Think Tank. \nUS participants included Assistant US Trade Representative for North Asian Affairs Wendy Cutler; David Spooner, chief USTR textile negotiator; US International Trade Commission operations director Robert Rogowsky and Tim Skud, deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for regulatory, tariffs and trade enforcement. \nIn addition to the seminar, Shen and his delegation are expected to meet with US officials on trade issues and with others in Washington before leaving this weekend. \nAdministration officials have been telling Taiwanese officials and legislators for several months that an FTA would be delayed because of existing trade disputes between the two and because of Chinese opposition to such an agreement. \nTECRO's Chen told the Legislative Yuan during a recent trip to Taipei that work on an FTA could not start until 2004 at the earliest, depending on resolution of dis-agreements on Taiwan's compliance with its WTO commitments and on China's views. \nEven after preparations and negotiations start, it could take many years before a deal is finalized. Washington and Chile just this week entered into a FTA after 10 years of talks, although officials here do not think a Taiwan FTA would take quite that long. \n"There are still a significant number or bilateral trade disputes" between Taiwan and Washington, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-ROC Business Council, a private business group that promotes bilateral trade. \n"In principle, a US-Taiwan FTA is a good idea, but Taiwan has some major roadblocks in its trade relations with the US that are holding up this process. And, until they are addressed, it's going to continue that way," he said. He called Chen's 2004 timeline "very realistic." \nWhile the administration has not been enthusiastic, congressional free-trade supporters have been pushing for an agreement. \nLast January, the then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, and the ranking Republican, Senator Charles Grassley, urged the administration to have the International Trade Commission write a report on the impact of an FTA with Taiwan. \nThat report, which came out last summer, was generally positive, although it did not make any recommendations.
At a campground in Nantou County, a team of women are using ropes to shimmy up a towering seven-story tall Chinaberry tree, fighting their fear of heights and reconnecting with nature. Tree climbing remains somewhat niche in Taiwan, but a growing number of women are embracing the challenge thanks to the island’s first international certified female climber arborist. Sylvia Hsu (許芢涵), 26, said she was inspired to set up her own women-only tree climbing classes after seeing the popularity of similar gatherings in Europe. “A women-only camp is a more relaxed environment,” she said. “I was hooked on trees after my first climb...
Police in Kaohsiung are investigating a possible murder after a woman’s body was found in a plastic container on Thursday. The bucket was found by a person operating an excavator on a construction site at a private lot next to the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery Station (橋頭糖廠站) on the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit system. Police investigator Chen Jen-cheng (陳仁正) yesterday said police had reviewed missing person reports and have narrowed the identity of the victim down to about 20 possible people. Physical evidence suggested she might have been a Fongshan District (鳳山) woman surnamed Lin (林), who was about 60 years old when she
Taiwanese have donated more than NT$10 million (US$329,946) to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, following an appeal for help by a Yilan-based Italian priest to save his “other homeland.” Catholic Father Giuseppe Didone on Wednesday issued a public letter asking for donations to be made to the fundraising center of Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital Luodong to purchase emergency provisions, including surgical masks and protective gowns, for medical personnel in Italy. Didone yesterday expressed his gratitude and said that he was touched by the love shown by Taiwanese. While state-funded hospitals in Italy are mostly adequately supplied, many local clinics are suffering from
Taiwanese sports are to return next weekend, with the baseball and soccer leagues starting their new seasons, although there are to be restrictions for spectators and protective measures due to COVID-19. The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) season was originally scheduled to begin on March 14, then pushed back to March 28, before settling on next Saturday. “To conform with the government’s mandate limiting crowds at outdoor events, we will strictly limit the total number of people at each league game at fewer than 200,” CPBL secretary-general Feng Shen-hsieng (馮勝賢) said. “This figure will include the players, coaches, team employees, ballpark