Striving for a bilateral trade agreement with the US remains key to the government’s diplomatic work, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, after outgoing US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said that trade disputes with Taiwan have not been resolved.
The US has “a large and growing trade deficit with Taiwan,” which was US$26.9 billion as of November last year, and its trade disputes with Taiwan have not been resolved yet, Lighthizer said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday.
That Washington has not yet started talks on a trade agreement with Taipei is not related to its “phase one” trade agreement with China, he said, adding that there had not been enough time to go through the many legal hoops to negotiate a deal with Taiwan.
Lighthizer’s remarks indirectly prove that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) chose the wrong time to lift restrictions on US pork containing ractopamine, as they show she did it in exchange for nothing, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) said yesterday.
Unlike the US Department of State, the USTR apparently was not aware of Tsai’s plan to lift the restrictions before her announcement on Aug. 28 last year, as it has not shown any indications that it would address trade issues, Chen said.
With US president-elect Joe Biden’s administration to be sworn in on Wednesday next week, Tsai’s administration should suspend its rules changes allowing US pork containing the feed additive while it negotiates with the USTR, he said.
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing in Taipei that securing a trade deal with the US is important to Taiwan’s economic and strategic development, and remains a key component of the government’s diplomatic work.
The ministry continues to work with economic and trade affairs agencies to gain more support from the US administration and Congress, as well as the industrial and other sectors, Ou said.
It also looks forward to strengthening relations with the new US administration and its new trade representative, Ou said.
Biden has nominated Katherine Tai (戴琪), a second-generation Asian-American, as his trade representative, which needs confirmation from the US Senate.
The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement meeting between Taiwan and the US has been suspended since October 2016, while the Taiwan-US Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, inaugurated in November last year, focuses on 5G networks, telecommunications security, supply chains and other issues.
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