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Taiwan, US prepare for TIFA talks: Lin

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan and the United States are currently making preparations for the next round of bilateral trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.

“The most important task between Taipei and Washington is to prepare the next round of the TIFA talks,” Lin told reporters in Taipei yesterday when asked to comment on the issue.

In the upcoming round of talks, Lin said Taiwan would like to engage in more detailed discussions with the U.S. on the possible singing of a Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) and to ask the U.S. to support Taiwan's bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The two sides are still in negotiations on when the next round of TIFA talks will be held, the minister said. But the talks are likely to be staged in the U.S., he noted.

The last round of high-level TIFA talks were held in Taipei in March 2013 and were co-chaired by Vice Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis.

TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of official diplomatic ties. It had been suspended since 2007 mainly because of controversies over the import of U.S. beef containing ractopamine.

In July 2012, the Legislative Yuan passed amendments to the Food Safety Act, paving the way for the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

In February 2013, Taiwan and the U.S. announced that the long-stalled talks would resume in March that year.

The Foreign Ministry is currently holding a seminar in Taipei for diplomats to educate them on the nation's bids to join the TPP and the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Asked to comment on Taiwan's TPP bid, Lin said yesterday that the seminar is part of the government's plan to push for Taiwan's bid. Taiwan is hoping to make related preparations to pitch for its TPP bid by July this year.

TPP and RCEP

Asked to comment on a report published Monday by Japanese newspaper Nikkei, which cited a White House official as saying that Taiwan may join the TPP before the end of 2015 at the earliest with strong support from the U.S., Lin said he was “not aware of that information.”

The TPP is currently being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 other

countries — Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei. The RCEP is being negotiated by all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

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