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Taiwan, Britain to start trade talks

Taipei Times - 28 July 2023

Taiwan, Britain to start trade talks
By Liu Tzu-hsuan

Taiwan and the UK are to begin official-level talks on an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) in three key areas with the aim of signing a memorandum of understanding.

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who heads the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations, and British Minister of State for Business and Trade Nigel Huddleston announced the talks after a videoconference on Wednesday.

The ETP is to focus on two-way investment, digital trade, energy and net zero, the British Department for Business and Trade said in a press release on the same day.

The UK and Taiwan will begin engaging businesses on the ETP in due course, it said.

The topics covered by the ETP can be further expanded in the future, the Taiwanese office said yesterday.

Taiwan would coordinate trade policies and rules on trade issues of common concern with the UK under the ETP framework to establish a long-term trade partnership, it said.

Taiwan is the third country with which the UK is pursuing an ETP, after India and Thailand, it said.

The ultimate goal of an ETP is the signing of a free-trade agreement (FTA), but the process might not be as smooth as expected, it said.

For example, the UK and India formed an ETP in 2021, but the FTA is still under negotiation as opinions are divided in regard to market opening and immigration, it said.

Deng said that having signed its first agreement with the US, called the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, Taiwan could ink similar agreements with other countries.

Huddleston is to cohost the 26th annual Trade Talks later this year in London with Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺), the office said, adding that the two held an introductory call to discuss the event on Wednesday.

The UK and Taiwan have been holding annual ministerial trade talks since 1991. The latest was held in Taiwan in November last year, with the two sides discussing barriers to trade in sectors such as fintech, food and drinks, and pharmaceuticals, the British Department for Business and Trade said.

“The ETP will build on our ongoing collaboration through annual Trade Talks to tackle barriers to trade and promote UK expertise, deepening our relationship to take advantage of increasing commercial opportunities,” it said.

Taiwan is an important trading partner for the UK, with bilateral trade reaching £8.6 billion (US$11.1 billion) last year, it said.

Taiwan offers “significant potential for UK companies in areas such as offshore wind and hydrogen,” it said.

Both the UK and Taiwan are champions of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system, it said, adding that the two sides regularly discuss ways to enhance trade and investment ties and tackle market access issues.

 source: Taipei Times