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US, Taiwan may resume trade talks this year

Central News Agency | 2009-10-23

U.S., Taiwan may resume trade talks this year

Taipei, Oct. 2 (CNA) — U.S.-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks are expected to be resumed by the end of this year now that the issue of beef imports from the U.S. has been resolved, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said Friday.

Taiwan’s decision to further open its market to U.S. beef has paved the way for a resumption of the annual TIFA talks, which have been stalled since 2007, Shih said.

Taiwan agreed to lift a ban on U.S. bone-in beef from cattle younger than 30 months and inked a protocol on Taiwan’s new market-opening measures in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Shih said he recently reported to Vice Premier Eric Lilun Chu about the importance of renewing the TIFA talks and said that under the TIFA dialogue framework this time, Taiwan will seek to talk about e-commerce, product verification and other related issues.

Shih’s remarks echoed those made by William Stanton, the top U.S. envoy to Taiwan, who said the previous day that the United States and Taiwan have agreed to seek a gradual approach to resolving the long-running issue of Taiwan’s restrictions on U.S. beef imports.

Stanton said that as soon as the "hurdle of the beef" was cleared, the TIFA talks aimed at strengthening bilateral economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the U.S. could be resumed soon, hopefully before the end of this year.

The U.S. side, meanwhile, is expected to bring forward issues including pharmaceuticals, pricing of medical devices and ractopamine testing of U.S.-exported pork in the next round of TIFA talks, according to an official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Taiwan and the U.S. signed the TIFA in 1994 as a stepping stone to a Taiwan-U.S. free trade agreement. Under this framework, meetings were held once or twice a year since then until July 2007.

Senior Media Affairs Liaison Nefeterius Akeli McPherson of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative expressed welcome that day to Taiwan’s decision to lift its ban on U.S. bone-in beef from young cattle.

The latest development is conducive to a resumption of the TIFA talks, according to McPherson.

"We look forward to seeing both sides getting the opportunity to communicate, since there are so many trade issues to be settled, " she said.

Meanwhile, a Washington, D.C.-based Taiwanese official cast doubt on whether the new round of TIFA talks will take place this year, given that the U.S. government is running a tight schedule for the rest of this year, including an annual meeting of the China-U.S.

Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) , a visit to China by President Barack Obama and the leadership summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Zep Hu and Deborah Kuo)

 source: Taiwan News