“Excellent progress” is being made on Taipei-Washington trade negotiations following the signing of the first agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade in June, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) said on Thursday.
Tai made the comments during an interview with Bloomberg’s David Westin at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.
In its trade negotiations, the US is trying “to be responsive to the data and the feedback that we are receiving from the world economy,” as many changes are occurring simultaneously in the world, she said.
Photo courtesy of the Executive Yuan
Washington is pursuing trade agreements designed to meet both sides’ interests, but “also tailored to the challenges and the dynamics that we are navigating together in the global economy,” she added.
The first agreement covered five areas: customs administration and trade facilitation, regulatory practices, services domestic regulation, preventing corruption, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
After the agreement was signed, “the US Congress in a fit of enthusiasm — even though they weren’t legally required to — took a vote on it to show their support for what we are doing here,” Tai said.
“We are negotiating another set of disciplines, right as we speak, [and] we’ve been making excellent progress,” she said.
Washington would continue to look into building on those areas to create an arrangement with Taiwan that is fit for “challenging” times, she said.
Regarding whether the US would eventually sign a free-trade agreement with Taiwan, Tai said that if a free-trade agreement is considered a traditional approach “to a very comprehensive, and maximally and aggressively liberalizing agreement,” then “no.”
“We’re not doing that with anybody right now. It’s actually insensitive to the dynamics in the global economy and the US economy ... to push on with that program, which may have been fit for the ’80s and the ’90s,” she said.
“It’s 2023. We need new policies,” in light of innovations such as artificial intelligence as well as challenges, including supply chain disruption and geopolitical tensions, she added.
Washington is “embracing innovation in [its] trade policy” that is different from the “old-style trade agreements that we used to do,” Tai said.
In other developments, Taiwan and the US on Friday held their fourth Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue with virtual and in-person meetings in Taipei and Washington.
Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) and US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose Fernandez led the online dialogue. Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) also led a delegation to the US for a meeting in Washington.
The dialogue featured extensive discussions on responding to economic coercion, supply chain investment, secure and sustainable energy transition, and areas of possible cooperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The two sides are to bolster the resilience and security of the supply chain for critical minerals, and cooperate on expanding talent training for the semiconductor industry to meet the development needs of artificial intelligence and the smart automation of industries, it said.
On efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Taiwan and the US also agreed to hold more exchanges on energy transition, and drafted plans on tasks to be undertaken over the next two years, it said.
The two sides were also positive about the progress being made toward signing an agreement to avoid double taxation, it added.
The first Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue was held in November 2020 under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office to advance cooperation on a broad range of economic issues, and forge closer ties between the two economies.
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