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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

ECFA separate from any similar U.S. plan, says AIT
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US senators write to Taiwan President Ma over meat trade issue
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Beef import takes precedent over other U.S.-Taiwan issues: MOFA
The promotion of bilateral economic and trade talks between Taiwan and the United States will be hampered if the issue of a comprehensive opening of the Taiwan market to U.S. beef is not resolved, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.
Ma: better ties with China needed for FTA with the US
Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou says the government should improve ties with China first if Taiwan wants to sign a free trade agreement with the US.
Taiwan, US hold ’productive’ talks
Taiwan and the United States completed bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in Washington, DC July 11. They agreed to launch the Consultative Committee on Agriculture, a new mechanism for dealing with bilateral food and agricultural issues.
US considers investment agreement with Taiwan
The United States said it is considering forging a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan but ruled out a free trade pact in the immediate future.
Washington still non-committal on FTA with Taiwan
A senior US trade official on Wednesday committed the Bush administration to strengthening trade ties with Taiwan, but was noncosmmittal in terms of the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and the US.
The help of a free-trade agreement
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Business delegation heads to US to sell FTA
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US representatives call for Taiwan-US trade agreement
Five members of the US House of Representatives have proposed a resolution in support of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and Taiwan.