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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
Photo: munch999/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

US eyes closer trade ties with Taiwan, but no pact
The United States has no immediate plans to negotiate a free trade pact with Taiwan, but is eager to discuss other ways to expand economic ties, a top US trade official told reporters on Monday.
Int’l Intellectual Property Alliance supports US-Taiwan FTA
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), an influential business entity, expressed strong support for the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Taiwan.
Taiwan targets June 2007 for FTA with United States
Taiwan looks forward to signing a free trade agreement with the United States before the expiration of the US Trade Promotion Authority next June, Taiwan’s deputy representative in Washington, DC said Friday.
US-Taiwan FTA not likely within next few years: USTR official
A ranking US Trade Representative Office (USTR) official said Tuesday it is not likely that the United States and Taiwan will be able to reach a free trade agreement within the next couple of years as talks on many bilateral trade issues have yet to be completed.
US official urges Taiwan to do more on FTA
"The ball is in Taiwan’s court. It’s not enough simply to say that we want an FTA."
FTA best trade option for Korea, US: Further delay in talks may jeopardize bilateral relationship
An influential official of the US business community says the US could put aside Korea as a trade partner for free trade agreement (FTA) talks if no progress is made to resolve bilateral trade issues in the next six months.
President Chen urges US, Japan to consider FTAs with Taiwan
President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday urged the United States and Japan to consider signing free trade agreements with Taiwan, saying that only by having such agreements in place can the island’s economy stand without heavily depending on China and can security and peace in the Asia-Pacific region be maintained.
FTA requires backing of Congress
The Bush administration will do nothing to advance a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan unless Taiwan mobilizes a widespread coalition of US businesses in favor of an FTA to lobby Congress to pressure the administration into action, a key US congressman told a Washington symposium on a US-Taiwan FTA on Tuesday.
Taiwan ready to be free trade partner of US: Vice Minister
The formation of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and the United States will not only create a win-win situation for both, but also will benefit the U.S. by enhancing its presence in other countries, including China, a visiting Taiwan official said Tuesday.
Taiwan: MOEA position paper to promote FTA with the US
The Bureau of Foreign Trade plans to hold a publicity campaign in cities across the US this year to promote the benefits of signing a deal