Washington to send expert-level bilateral trade talks team
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostThe United States government will send an inter-agency team to Taiwan next month to conduct expert-level talks on a wide range of bilateral trade issues, a visiting U.S. economic official announced yesterday. The move could pave the way for the resumption of long-suspended bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
September 26, 2012, 12:03 am TWN
The announcement was made yesterday by Atul Keshap, a senior U.S. official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), during a luncheon in Taipei.
During his address at the event held by the American Chamber of Commerce, Keshap said the U.S. government is ready to broaden its economic relationship with Taiwan after the latter took steps to remove barriers to closer two-way trade.
The U.S. official was referring to the Legislative Yuan's passage of amendments to a food safety act this July, paving the way for the country to import U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancer ractopamine.
To enhance closer economic ties, a number of U.S. government agencies and their Taiwanese counterparts have been working together to explore the next steps in bilateral trade dialogue, including with regard the TIFA talks, he noted.
“In fact, an inter-agency team will be visiting Taiwan next month to conduct expert-level talks on a wide range of trade issues of interest to both sides,” he noted.
The visiting U.S. senior economic official said there is a lot of work ahead for both sides to do in shoring up economic ties. However, he is confident that Taipei and Washington can work through complicated and technical issues in a way that makes sense for both sides.
The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of official diplomatic ties, but has been suspended since 2007 mainly because of controversies over imports of American beef containing ractopamine.
The U.S. has regarded Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has repeatedly implied that a resumption of bilateral talks under the TIFA rests on the resolution of the beef issue.
Visit to Broaden Economic Ties
Speaking during yesterday's luncheon, the U.S. official, who arrived Taipei Sunday, said he was here to fulfill a promise made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Lien Chan, Taiwan's representative to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, on the sidelines of the summit.
During his three-day-visit here, Keshap said he has met with President Ma Ying-jeou and several local economic officials “to expand the scope of bilateral economic relationships.”
He lauded the nations' close economic ties despite Taiwan's relatively small population.
Aside from bilateral cooperation in the economic arena, as well as on education and tourism, the visiting senior U.S. APEC official said the U.S. government is also looking forward to working with Taiwan in multilateral forums such as APEC.
He also noted that Taiwan's efforts within APEC have helped prepare Taiwan for possible future entry into next-generation trade agreements.
This is Keshap's first trip to Taiwan. He was scheduled to leave Taiwan yesterday.