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May 28, 2017

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American Chamber of Commerce urges US to launch into pact talks with Taiwan

TAIPEI -- The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei said Friday that it has urged the U.S. government to start negotiations with Taiwan on a bilateral investment agreement (BIA).

"Given the positive change of attitude and significant progress on the part of the Taiwan authorities, we believe the time is right for the U.S. to proceed with exploratory consultations with Taiwan on the feasibility of a BIA," AmCham President Andrea Wu was quoted as saying in a statement.

"Negotiating a BIA would be an effective way to address non-tariff barriers to trade and investment and to spur more investment in both directions. U.S. asset management companies, which have already established a promising market in Taiwan, could have much to gain from BIA provisions," she said.

During its annual doorknock mission in Washington, D.C. last week, a 22-member AmCham delegation urged U.S. government officials and lawmakers to support the launch of such talks as a step toward eventual membership for Taiwan in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc, the statement said.

Stressing the importance of further strengthening U.S.-Taiwan ties, AmCham said the Taiwanese government over the past half-year has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalization and to bringing its regulatory affairs into line with standard international practices.

"Taiwan deserves consideration to become a BIA partner and a candidate for second-round TPP membership," the statement said.

Alan Eusden, a former AmCham chairman and chairman of Corning Display Technology Taiwan, who was part of the Washington delegation, expressed optimism toward the development of bilateral trade pact talks.

"We found a much more positive atmosphere toward Taiwan this time," said Eusden. "In addition to the ongoing bilateral discussions under (the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) TIFA, we heard that close cooperation between Taiwan and the United States is also underway on various multilateral trade initiatives, including efforts under the WTO to advance a trade-in services agreement."

The idea of a U.S.-Taiwan BIA was first announced in 2006, but was soon overshadowed by the dispute over U.S. beef imports to Taiwan.

Taiwan lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef containing traces of ractopamine in July 2012, paving the way for a resumption of TIFA talks in March 2013. Until then, the talks had been suspended for more than five years.

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