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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

Beef issues affect US-Taiwan free trade talks: U.S. official
The lingering beef dispute was why Taiwan has been unable to hold a new round of high-level trade talks with the United States and why it has lost congressional support for the negotiation, according to a US official Tuesday.
Taiwan, US at odds on beef issue
The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks were postponed by the United States in January after Taiwan blocked some shipments of US beef upon finding that they contained residue of ractopamine, an animal feed additive banned in Taiwan
TIFA talks shelved over beef dispute
The US has decided to postpone a trade meeting with Taiwan later this month amid a dispute over US beef, the Central News Agency reported yesterday, citing unnamed Taiwanese officials.
Drug-tainted US beef removed from Taiwan markets
Three shipments of US beef have been pulled from Taiwan’s shelves after they were found to contain Ractopamine, an official said Sunday.
Wu talks of possibilities in TIFA talks
With the US and South Korea close to signing a free-trade agreement (FTA), Premier Wu Den-yih yesterday said Taiwan and the US could negotiate item by item in the next round of talks for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Taiwan, US likely to resume TIFA talks soon: US scholars
Taiwan and the United States are likely to resume talks in the next few months on their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) after a hiatus of three years, Washington-based US scholars said Thursday.
US rules out Taiwan free trade deal
The United States has ruled out a free trade agreement with Taiwan amid a dispute over beef imports, days after the island signed a sweeping accord with longtime adversary China.
US scholars see WTO as best path to resolving beef dispute
By taking the case to the WTO, the US will be able to "depoliticize" the issue, a CSIS fellow argues
US official says no basis for renegotiation of beef issue
The US Trade Representative Office said Friday that Taiwan has destroyed its bilateral agreement with the United States on beef imports and there is no basis for renegotiation of the issue.
US lawmakers urge tough line against Taiwan on beef
The United States should not resume trade and investment talks with Taiwan until that country reverses a ban on US beef, a bipartisan group of four senior US lawmakers said on Wednesday.