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AIT chief urges Taiwan to focus trade talks on TIFA

China Post, Taiwan

AIT chief urges Taiwan to focus trade talks on TIFA

The China Post staff

4 May 2007

Taiwan should focus more on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) rather than on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the upcoming trade talks with the U.S., Stephen M. Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), told a press conference yesterday.

Young said that before extending the validity of the fast track system for trade agreements, the U.S. government is unlikely to negotiate with Taiwan on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Fast Track refers to the authority that the U.S. President has to negotiate agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend. It was in effect from 1975 to 1994 and led to the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was restored in 2002 by the Trade Act of 2002, but will expire with two months.

Meanwhile, a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (or TIFA) is a trade pact which establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between countries. TIFAs are often seen as an important step towards establishing FTAs.

Young said that the bilateral trade between Taiwan and the U.S. has enjoyed robust growth, hitting US$60 billion in 2006. In May 2006, Karan K. Bhatia, deputy U.S. trade representative, came to Taipei to resume the talks on TIFA with her Taiwan counterpart, and she will represent the U.S. again in the next round of trade talks with Taiwan in the coming summer, according to Young.

Both sides are undergoing three major talks, namely on a bilateral investment agreement, a bilateral taxation agreement, and a bilateral government procurement agreement.