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US to send expert-level bilateral trade talks team to Taiwan

Publication Date : 26-09-2012


The United States government will send an inter-agency team to Taiwan next month to conduct expert-level talks on a wide range of bilateral trade issues, a visiting US economic official announced yesterday. The move could pave the way for the resumption of long-suspended bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa).

The announcement was made yesterday by Atul Keshap, a senior US official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), during a luncheon in Taipei.

During his address at the event held by the American Chamber of Commerce, Keshap said the US government is ready to broaden its economic relationship with Taiwan after the latter took steps to remove barriers to closer two-way trade.

The US official was referring to the Legislative Yuan's passage of amendments to a food safety act this July, paving the way for the country to import US beef containing the leanness-enhancer ractopamine.

To enhance closer economic ties, a number of US government agencies and their Taiwanese counterparts have been working together to explore the next steps in bilateral trade dialogue, including with regard the Tifa talks, he noted.

“In fact, an inter-agency team will be visiting Taiwan next month to conduct expert-level talks on a wide range of trade issues of interest to both sides,” he noted.

The visiting US senior economic official said there is a lot of work ahead for both sides to do in shoring up economic ties. However, he is confident that Taipei and Washington can work through complicated and technical issues in a way that makes sense for both sides.

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

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

Speaking during yesterday's luncheon, the US official, who arrived Taipei Sunday, said he was here to fulfill a promise made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Lien Chan, Taiwan's representative to the Apec Economic Leaders' Meeting, on the sidelines of the summit.

During his three-day-visit here, Keshap said he has met with President Ma Ying-jeou and several local economic officials “to expand the scope of bilateral economic relationships.”

He lauded the nations' close economic ties despite Taiwan's relatively small population.

Aside from bilateral cooperation in the economic arena, as well as on education and tourism, the visiting senior US Apec official said the US government is also looking forward to working with Taiwan in multilateral forums such as Apec.

He also noted that Taiwan's efforts within Apec have helped prepare Taiwan for possible future entry into next-generation trade agreements.

This is Keshap's first trip to Taiwan. He was scheduled to leave Taiwan yesterday.


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