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Taiwan, US likely to resume TIFA talks soon: US scholars

Focus Taiwan | 2010/09/23

Taiwan, U.S. likely to resume TIFA talks soon: U.S. scholars

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) — Taiwan and the United States are likely to resume talks in the next few months on their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) after a hiatus of three years, Washington-based U.S. scholars said Thursday.

"It’s likely that in the next few months we will see the resumption of the negotiations on the TIFA process, " said Bonnie Glaser, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a video conference organized by the American Cultural Center to discuss recent cross-Taiwan Strait developments.

The TIFA framework has provided an official channel for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues since it was signed in September 1994. However, the two sides have not held TIFA talks since 2007.

The TIFA process, as well as an extradition agreement and Taiwan’s inclusion in the U.S. visa-waiver program, is on a "rich agenda" for both sides to work on, in addition to military and security issues, Glaser said.

Taiwan and the U.S. hope to conclude the extradition agreement "some time next year, " she added.

Glaser encouraged Taiwan to engage in talks with China, especially on possible military and political matters, with the confidence it has built up during the negotiation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) , which was signed in June to liberalize bilateral trade.

On the U.S. side, it should continue its arms sales to Taiwan, in light of the increasing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait, said Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.

However, not much is likely to be done in the U.S. at the moment in terms of free trade agreement talks or arm sales because its mid-term elections are approaching, he said.

Cheng said he is concerned that there has been so little discussion on how Taiwan’s military capabilities line up against China’s.

Responding to a question from the audience, the security expert said that the U.S. "never left Asia" but it is now refocusing on the region.

The U.S. commitment has been seen as a stabilizing force in the Asia Pacific region, he said, so that any reduction of American commitment would be probably viewed as "destabilizing."

(By Chris Wang)

 source: Focus Taiwan