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September 22, 2017

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Taiwan reform agenda crucial to its TPP bid: US envoy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan should use trade talks with the United States in order to prove its commitment to conducting the economic reforms needed to enter the regional economic bloc known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the U.S. de facto ambassador to Taiwan said during a recent interview.

In an interview with Bloomberg published yesterday, Christopher Marut, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Taiwan is "still exploring whether it's prepared to make the economic reforms that the TPP will require." The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.

However, the AIT head noted that momentum for progress on U.S.-Taiwan trade issues, including intellectual property protection and U.S. pork exports, is "certainly still there," hinting that Taiwan needs to do a better job of showing its determination for increasing trade liberalization before making its pitch to join the TPP.

Taiwan has repeatedly reiterated its desire to join the TPP, a U.S.-led trade bloc, to avoid being economically marginalized in the region. The TPP currently is being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations — Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei.

Taiwan's Cabinet has previously set a goal of completing preparations for the nation's TPP bid by July.

Meanwhile, during the interview with Bloomberg, the AIT chief reiterated the U.S.' commitment to Taiwan as both sides celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. (台灣關係法, TRA)

"Our commitments and assurances to Taiwan are firm and long-standing," Marut said during the interview, adding that the relationship is based on shared values such as democracy and rule of law.

The TRA was implemented on April 10, 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan, after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

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