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Taiwan, US to resume trade talks next year: envoy

Agence France Presse | 25 November 2009

Taiwan, US to resume trade talks next year: envoy

TAIPEI — Taiwan and the United States are expected to resume their dialogue on a key trade and investment pact in the new year, a US envoy was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) stalled in 2007 over Taiwan’s ban on the import of US beef on the bone due to fears over mad cow disease.

However that restriction was relaxed last month in a move welcomed by Washington and which opened the way for fresh dialogue.

"It is Taiwan’s turn to host the next TIFA meeting, and we look forward to taking part in a meeting early in the new year," said William A. Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

"As we move beyond the recent controversy over beef, I hope we can create a positive atmosphere for a successful TIFA meeting," he told the American Chamber of Commerce in a speech Tuesday, which was released by the AIT.

The TIFA talks have become the most important channel for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade and economic issues, and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has said he hopes they will lead to the signing of a comprehensive free trade agreement.

Taiwan banned all US beef imports in December 2003 after reports of mad cow disease on the island. In 2006 it allowed imports of boneless beef, but restrictions on other products such as offal remained in place, causing the trade talks to stall.

The AIT has represented US interests in Taiwan since Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, although the US remains a key ally and leading arms supplier to the island.

 source: AFP