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US-Taiwan trust on the menu at AmCham dinner
Publication Date : 22-03-2013
Taiwan has restored mutual trust with the United States on many issues, making bilateral ties their best in 30 years, said President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday.
At an event for US business representatives, Ma said he hopes Taiwan's current approach - “the low-key and surprise-free style” - can continue to improve the sometimes rocky relationship between Taiwan and the US.
“In the last four and a half years, we have successfully restored mutual trust with the United States on many issues. I can say, quoting American scholars, that our relations with the US are the best in the 30 years since we severed diplomatic relations,” said Ma late Thursday in Taipei.
Ma made his remarks yesterday at the “Hsieh Nien Fan,” a year-end banquet hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taiwan. This year, the menu included US beef that - for the first time since 2006 - may have contained traces of ractopamine.
“I am just delighted that this year at the Hsieh Nien Fan, we no longer have to joke about where's the beef,” said AmCham Chairman Alan Eusden.
In opening remarks, Eusden lauded Taiwan's decision last year to lift the ban on beef imports containing ractopamine. He also praised the Ma administration for making strides in Taiwan's economic development.
Last year at the same AmCham event, Ma had announced five of his administration's priorities: trade liberalisation, industrial upgrading and integration, a secure energy supply, educational reform and policies to attract foreign talent to Taiwan.
“Looking back on this past year, we see some significant progress toward these goals,” said Eusden.
“We are now increasingly optimistic about prospects of bringing the US-Taiwan relationship to an entirely new level, whether in the form of a bilateral agreement, a free trade agreement, participation in the (Trans-Pacific Partnership) or even all of the above,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Eusden said that US businesses are showing signs of recovery after the global economic crisis, and particularly so in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific region has become key to the US global trade strategy, he said.
Taiwan trade strategy
In his address, Ma previewed Taiwan's trade strategy for the next three years. It's a plan thatprioritises Beijing in the hope that a “full-fledged” cross-strait trade relationship can make Taiwan more attractive to foreign investors and other major trade partners, according to Ma.
The central government is fast-tracking follow-up talks for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ecfa), according to Ma. If the two sides can complete the “Goods, Services and Dispute Settlement Agreements” of Ecfa by 2013, Taiwan will “have a full-fledged cooperation” with the mainland.
“This will present a very good opportunity (for investors) to use Taiwan as a springboard to the mainland market,” said Ma.
Reciprocal cross-strait offices are also forthcoming, Ma continued. In China, Taiwan's representative office will aid Taiwanese investors, students and travelers, while also “bringing the two sides (of the Strait) closer together.”
“This is a very important step ... Institutionalisation of cross-strait relations is the best line of defense for Taiwan, compared to other means,” he said.
Other projects on Taiwan's trade agenda include upgrading and transforming the domestic economy. The central government is building a “TaoyuanAerotropolis” to boost annual passenger volume at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Work is also underway for three “Free Economic Pilot Zones” - trade spaces that are red-tape free and friendly to foreign economies.
“The idea is to eventually make Taiwan a free trade island, but we have to do that step by step. We have to further liberalise trade policies, we have to do more deregulation,” said Ma.