Taiwan and the US have not yet scheduled a date for their next round of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday.
The confirmation came a day after Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who also heads the Cabinet’s Office of Trade Negotiations, said that TIFA talks were unlikely to be held this year, because the administration of US President Donald Trump has yet to fill vacant deputy trade representative posts.
Three deputy representative positions at the Office of the US Trade Representative are vacant, Deng said, adding that while the Trump administration has named people to fill those positions, they have not yet been confirmed by the US Congress.
Even if the US Congress quickly approves the nominations, “there will not be time to hold [TIFA talks] this year,” given the time it takes to process the appointments at an administrative level, Deng added.
“Our TIFA council meetings with Taiwan typically include the deputy US trade representative,” AIT spokesman Sonia Urbom said. “This position is currently vacant, so that makes it difficult to make decisions about the scheduling of a TIFA meeting.”
Taiwan and the US signed the bilateral trade agreement in 1994 and have held 10 rounds of trade talks since then.
TIFA is the major negotiating channel for high-ranking trade officials of the two nations, led by officials at the deputy ministerial level.
The most recent round of the talks last year was led by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) and then-deputy US trade representative Robert Holleyman.
The first TIFA meeting was held in 1995 and continued in 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2007, taking place in Taipei and Washington on a rotating basis before a five-year hiatus from 2008 to 2012 due to disputes over imports of US beef containing the “leanness-enhancing” drug ractopamine.
The US regarded Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and implied on numerous occasions that a resumption of bilateral talks under the TIFA rested on the resolution of the beef issue.
The Legislative Yuan in July 2012 passed amendments to a Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), paving the way for imports of US beef containing ractopamine.
TIFA talks subsequently resumed in March 2013 in Taipei.
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