US Senator Cory Gardner on Wednesday called on the Office of the US Trade Representative to initiate discussions soon with Taiwan on a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.
Gardner made the proposal in a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier in the day, a press release on his official Web site said.
In the letter, which was also published on the Web site, Gardner said that there is strong bipartisan support in the US Congress for the growing bilateral economic relationship between Taiwan and the US.
The US Senate in October last year unanimously passed the Taipei International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which calls on the US administration to “engage in bilateral trade negotiations with Taiwan, with the goal of entering into a free trade agreement that is of mutual economic benefit and that protects United States workers and benefits United States exporters,” the letter said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei in November last year, formally endorsed a US-Taiwan trade agreement, Gardner said in the letter, referring to Tsai’s statement that such a pact would improve engagement and set a precedent for a rules-based trade order in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Unfortunately, despite the most favorable environment for US-Taiwan bilateral ties in recent memory, there has been no substantive progress on bilateral trade negotiations,” Gardner wrote.
In 2018, Taiwan was the US’ 12th-largest trading partner in goods and services, with combined two-way exports of US$95.4 billion, he said.
Taiwan was the 15th-largest foreign investor in the US last year, while Taiwanese and US enterprises combined supported almost 100,000 jobs on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, Gardner said.
“I write to respectfully urge you to immediately initiate meaningful negotiations between the United States and Taiwan on a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement,” said Gardner, who coauthored the TAIPEI Act.
In December last year, 161 US representatives from across party lines wrote to Lighthizer, urging him to start negotiations with Taiwan on a trade agreement.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday thanked Gardner for reiterating his support for bilateral trade talks.
The ministry and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US would continue to strive for trade negotiations and for more support in the US Congress, Ou said.
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