US and Taiwan launch trade ‘initiative’

The US and Taiwan have launched a new initiative to step up their economic interventions just days after Washington announced the Taipei exclusion zone framework.

The Biden administration said the “US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade” would “develop an ambitious roadmap” for talks in areas ranging from agriculture to digital trade. to the climate.

President Joe Biden last week launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with 12 other countries and later added Fiji. The US has not asked Taipei to participate, in part because some Southeast Asian countries are concerned about countering China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan.

The new initiative hides the frustration that Biden’s trade policy has with Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen took a major political gamble two years ago by opening Taiwan’s market to unpopular American pork and beef, a move she hopes will kick-start protests. negotiating a bilateral “free trade” agreement that would expand access to the US market.

Before the IPEF’s launch last week, a bipartisan group of 252 US House and Senate lawmakers urged Biden to include Taiwan in the regional framework to show support.

Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund, said: “Taiwan’s exclusion from the IPEF has dealt a blow. “This step is welcome, but it does not surpass both the IPEF and a bilateral FTA. However, if agreements are reached in all of these areas, they could cover future chapters of a bilateral trade agreement if the political situation turns more favorable.”

A senior Taiwan official said the new initiative was “important to further advance the content of our dialogue on trade. But of course, we still look forward to negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement at some point and joining the IPEF.”

Both the IPEF and the White House committed to invest 150 million dollars The membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was designed to respond to criticism that the US Indo-Pacific strategy was too heavy on security while lacking a commercial component.

But some observers question what the new US-Taiwan initiative will make. Its many elements have been discussed by governments. As they continued negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement a year ago, digital trade, trade facilitation and supply chain security have among the central themes.

Officials also discussed some of the same issues as part of the U.S.-Taiwan Prosperous Economic Partnership Dialogue, which kicks off in late 2020.

Joining the IPEF and having a free trade agreement with the US is especially important for Taiwan as pressure from China has prevented it from joining most bilateral and regional trade agreements. now available.

China and Taiwan have both applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade agreement that replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership after it was abandoned by the US. under President Donald Trump in 2017.

Taiwan is the ninth largest trading partner of the United States based on 2020 data, according to the office of the United States Trade Representative. The island is one of the world’s largest suppliers of semiconductors and other electronic components.

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