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September 26, 2017

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US ready to resume TIFA talks: ministry

Taiwan and the United States are ready to resume long-suspended bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as Washington will soon send a senior economic official to Taipei to begin exploratory work and prepare for future expert-level engagement under the TIFA umbrella, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.

The major breakthrough was reached after former Vice President Lien Chan, Taiwan's top envoy to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, met Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the summit held at Vladivostok, Russia, the MOFA said in a released statement.

Clinton, Lien Meet at APEC

During the talks, Clinton and Lien both highlighted the value of greater engagement on economic and trade issues of interest to both sides and discussed steps both sides are taking to advance U.S.-Taiwan economic relations.

In a separate statement, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taipei in the absence of official ties, said the two sides will now begin exploratory work and prepare for future expert-level engagement under the umbrella of the TIFA.

Clinton also said that she will dispatch Atul Keshap, a senior U.S. APEC official and coordinator for economic policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, to Taipei to consult on further broadening the economic relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, the AIT said.

The AIT yesterday also added that Keshap may visit Taipei later this month.

The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but has been suspended since 2007 mainly because of controversies over imports of American beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

The U.S. has regarded Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has repeatedly implied on numerous occasions that a resumption of bilateral talks under the TIFA rests on the resolution of the beef issue.

This July, Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed amendments to a food safety act, paving the way for the country to import U.S. beef containing ractopamine, and there have been numerous reports since indicating that Taipei and Washington are expected to re-open talks under the TIFA soon.

During her meeting with Lien, Clinton expressed her appreciation of President Ma Ying-jeou's leadership in the Legislature to bring Taiwan in line with international standards on imports such as beef, according to an AIT statement.

Ma Expresses Gratitude

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Presidential Office yesterday expressed gratitude to the U.S. for its support regarding the TIFA talks, a concrete move that is expected to continue to advance Taiwan- U.S. economic relations.

The news is worthy of celebration since it shows that the government is currently on the right path to promote Taiwan's economic development, the Presidential Office said, adding that President Ma hopes Washington will also support Taiwan's bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the future.

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