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
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.
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.
Larger trade talks between Taiwan and the United States have stalled as a result of the country’s indecision about accepting US beef imports.
Civic groups and the Consumers’ Foundation yesterday encouraged consumers to call legislators and urge them to vote against relaxing a ban on ractopamine residues in US meat products, stressing that the health of Taiwanese should not be used as a trading chip for economic development.
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.
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.
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.
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
Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang said Friday that the U.S. beef dispute not only involves beef but is also related to how the country shows its resolve to liberalize trade and strengthen its competitive edge.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he was concerned about the nation’s economic development after a free-trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the US came into force last week, adding that the government’s plan to partially lift a ban on US beef imports would help facilitate trade relations with other countries.