US official arrives to explore trade talk possibilities
By Enru Lin, The China PostAtul Keshap, senior U.S. official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, arrived in Taipei yesterday for preliminary talks on expanding bilateral trade cooperation.
September 24, 2012, 12:02 am TWN
Keshap is a senior coordinator for economic policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. As such, he coordinates U.S. economic and trade diplomacy toward 21 APEC member economies which generate 44 percent of global trade and US$34 trillion of the U.S.' GDP.
The official flew in late yesterday from Japan. During his three-day stop, Keshap will speak to government officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the National Security Council. He will also have a private audience with President Ma Ying-jeou.
According to the MOFA, Keshap is here to talk politics as well as to discuss future opportunities for expanding U.S.-Taiwan economic cooperation.
The American Institute in Taiwan has stated that Keshap's visit is not specifically related to talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
But there are strong indications that diplomacy talks are the prelude to a TIFA restart. All the government agencies on the U.S. diplomat's itinerary are front-line players for Taiwan's side of talks under TIFA.
Keshap was selected by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Taiwan mission, according to the MOFA. Clinton met with Taiwan's Lien Chan (連戰) at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on Sept. 9. After the forum, Clinton said she would dispatch Keshap to “consult on further broadening the U.S. economic relationship with Taiwan.”
Keshap will be accompanied by Raymond Green and Chris Beede, directors of the bureau's Economic Policy and Taiwan Coordination offices, respectively.
While in Taiwan, Keshap is also scheduled to meet with heads of U.S. companies in Taiwan. He will deliver a lecture titled “How Taiwan Can Maximize Benefits from Economic Relations with the U.S.” at an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday.
Suspended since 2007, TIFA is a framework for U.S.-Taiwan trade dialogue that could lead to Taiwan's admission to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Earlier this year, Washington stated that Taiwan must strike its ban on U.S. beef imports containing ractopamine before the resumption of talks under TIFA. The Legislative Yuan reversed the ban on ractopamine this July.