US representatives call for Taiwan-US trade agreement

Taipei Times

US representatives call for Taiwan-US trade agreement

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA, WASHINGTON

Sunday, May 06, 2007, Page 3

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, a Taiwanese official said on Friday.

The resolution, which requests that the administration of US President George W. Bush begin FTA talks with Taiwan soon for an early conclusion of the agreement, was proposed last Tuesday by Congressional Taiwan Caucus co-chairs Shelley Berkley, Steve Chabot, Dana Rohrabacher, Bob Wexler and Jim Ramstad.

Stanley Kao, Taiwan’s deputy representative to the US, said that while this was the third time such a resolution had been proposed in the House, it is was first to be initiated by more than one member of Congress.

The bipartisan congressional support for the signing of a US-Taiwan FTA indicates the importance that members of Congress attach to enhancing trade relations between the two countries, Kao said.

He said the move came at an "ideal time" as the recent conclusion of FTA talks between the US and South Korea was expected to have an impact on Taiwan’s industrial sector.

In addition to Congress, a number of state legislatures around the US have made similar moves, with 21 legislative bodies in 15 states adopting resolutions between January and last month to express support for a US-Taiwan FTA, Kao said.

The resolution said Taiwan, as a member of the WTO, should enjoy the same rights other WTO members have received when signing FTAs with other countries.

Taiwan shares common values with the US in terms of democracy and a free market economy, providing a strong foundation for open, fair and reciprocal bilateral trade relations, the draft resolution said.

It said that the close relations between the two countries over the past 50 years have brought about tremendous economic, cultural and strategic benefits to both sides

It said the volume of bilateral trade was valued at US$60 billion last year, with the US representing Taiwan’s second-largest export market while Taiwan was the US’ eighth-largest export market.

In consumption per capita, Taiwan was the largest consumer of US agricultural products, the third largest overseas market for US beef and corn, the fifth largest overseas market for US soy beans and the eighth largest overseas market for US wheat, the draft resolution said.

source: Taipei Times