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Ex-AIT director's views on pact do not represent US stance: AIT

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The views of a former U.S. envoy to Taiwanon a trade in-services pact between Taiwan and China does not reflect the United States government's position, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday, adding that the U.S. has not changed its stance.

AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer was responding to a report published Monday in the Chinese-language Liberty Times in which former AIT director William Stanton said the pact was not needed for Taiwan to pursue other trade deals.

Stanton “does not speak for the U.S. government, as he himself said in the article,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer said earlier in the month in response to questions that Taiwan's handling of the services agreement would have “no direct relation to the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership),” a prospective U.S.-led trade bloc.

The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

In an interview with the Liberty Times, Stanton said the controversial trade-in-services deal with China was not related either directly or indirectly to Taiwan's chances at entering the TPP, according to the report.

The comments by Stanton, who was the head of AIT's Taipei office from 2009 to 2012, contradicted President Ma Ying-jeou's argument that passing the cross-strait services pact is a necessary first step before Taiwan can join regional trade blocs.

Now the director of the Center for Asia Policy at Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University, Stanton said the U.S. does not consider the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) of 2010 or other deals with China to be representative of regular FTAs because the agreements are meant to promote Beijing's political goals.

In response, Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch said it was “regrettable” that Stanton apparently “does not understand” Taiwan's economic plight despite living on the island for so long.

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