US-Taiwan

The discussion around a possible bilateral free trade agreement between Taiwan and the US has been drawn out for years, with Taiwan requesting and the US acting lukewarm toward the idea.

At stake in any kind of bilateral trade or investment deal here is, first and foremost, the political standing of Taiwan vis-a-vis China and the rest of world. An FTA with Washington would amount to US recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty and independence from China. This goes against Chinese policy and could trigger military action. The US adheres to Beijing’s "one China" policy while it maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan.

The economics of a potential deal are another story. Taiwan is the US’ eighth largest trading partner, and sixth largest importer of US agricultural goods, and wants its own terms of access to US markets. But the US insists that the actual benefits of an FTA for Taiwan would not be important, even though Washington constantly pressures Taiwan to improve its policies on electronic commerce, government procurement, intellectual property, food safety and US beef for the benefit of American corporations.

In the meantime, the two governments, through their respective proxy agencies, signed a sort of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 1994 and conduct discussions through the TIFA Council.

last update: May 2012


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  • 4-Aug-2015 Want China Times Taiwan, US aim for TIFA talks by year end: US official
    Taiwan and the United States are working toward holding the next round of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)
  • 26-Feb-2013 CNA Premier vows to keep ban on US pork containing ractopamine
    Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-hua said Monday that the ban on US pork containing leanness-enhancing drugs will "definitely" not be lifted while he is in office. Jiang was speaking two weeks before the issue is likely to be put on the agenda of an important round of trade talks between Taiwan and the United States.
  • 1-Aug-2012 AFP US official to visit Taiwan amid trade talks push
    A senior US diplomat is to visit Taiwan this month, officials said Wednesday, as Taipei looks to resume free trade talks with Washington after lifting a six-year-old ban on some US beef imports.
  • 28-Jun-2012 AFP US envoy urges Taiwan to open market amid beef row
    Washington’s de facto ambassador to Taiwan on Wednesday urged the island to further open its market if it hopes to sign a trade deal with the US, amid a lingering dispute over American beef imports.
  • 11-Jun-2012 AFP Taiwan activists protest against U.S. beef
    Larger trade talks between Taiwan and the United States have stalled as a result of the country’s indecision about accepting US beef imports.
  • 10-Jun-2012 Civic groups mount call-in against US beef
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  • 8-Jun-2012 CNA Activists protest at AIT over US beef import row
    Activists demonstrated at the American Institute in Taiwan Friday to protest what they called Washington’s highhanded attitude in forcing Taiwan to open its doors to US beef containting residue of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
  • 1-Jun-2012 CNA TIFA talks may resume by year end if beef row ends: official
    Vice Economics Minister Francis Liang said Thursday if Taiwan can resolve its beef dispute with the United States, the two sides will be able to resume talks this year under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
  • 31-May-2012 Taipei Times AIT denies tying beef to TIFA, visa waiver
    The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denied that the AIT was “menacing” Taiwan, as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) put it, by tying a resumption of trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to the US beef issue.
  • 31-May-2012 China Post No TIFA without US beef solution: lawmaker
    The de facto United States envoy to Taiwan has made it clear that the island’s restrictions on the import of certain US beef products have complicated the bilateral trade situation and could jeopardize the restarting of trade pact talks
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