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US to launch new annual economic dialogue with Taiwan

National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff

Focus Taiwan | 1 September 2020

US to launch new annual economic dialogue with Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) The United States announced Monday that it will hold a new annual senior-level economic dialogue with Taiwan to strengthen bilateral economic ties, after Taiwan pledged last week it would open its market to previously banned categories of American pork and beef.

The announcement was made by David Stilwell, assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said in a statement late Monday.

The new platform, titled "Economic and Commercial Dialogue," will be led by the Department of State’s under secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment, the statement said.

"This new senior-level annual economic dialogue will provide a platform to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan economic ties across a spectrum of priority issues, including reorienting technology and medical product supply chains; enhancing investment screening and intellectual property rights protection; and expanding infrastructure and energy sector collaboration," the statement said.

No indication was given of when the first annual meeting under the new platform might be held.

The announcement was made after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday said her administration will set maximum residue levels (MRL) for the controversial veterinary drug ractopamine in pork to allow imports of such pork from the U.S., starting on Jan. 1, 2021.

Tsai also said Taiwan would open its market to U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months, which has been barred because of fears of mad-cow disease.

Ractopamine is currently banned for use in pigs in Taiwan as well as in the European Union and China because of concerns over its safety to both animals and humans.

But the U.S. has long criticized Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine in pigs as an impediment to trade, and it has not held formal talks on trade with Taiwan through the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) framework since October 2016.

Tsai’s announcement was welcomed by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and in Monday’s statement, AIT commended Taiwan "for taking significant steps toward fulfilling its commitments on market access for U.S. pork and beef."

"These steps affirm Taiwan’s global position as a reliable trading partner and will bring Taiwan into line with international standards applied by countries around the world," it said.

The Economic and Commercial Dialogue will take bilateral economic ties "to the next level," said AIT, the de facto American embassy in Taiwan.

Despite the general praise from the U.S. government, its main agency responsible for trade, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), has not issued any response to Tsai’s announcement.

The USTR has been engaged in trade talks with China and may not feel the timing is right to jump into trade negotiations with Taiwan, but it was unclear if the creation of the new dialogue platform was at all related to the USTR’s lack of reaction to Taiwan’s move.

The USTR has been in charge of the bilateral TIFA talks since they began in 1994.

In response to the AIT’s announcement, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) thanked the U.S. for "taking a concrete move to deepen the Taiwan-U.S. trade and economic partnership."

"We hope that the dialogue will be an opportunity to forge new areas of economic cooperation between the two countries and allow Taiwan to better integrate with other world economies and become a key power in global supply chain," he added.

(By Chen Yun-yu, Yeh Su-ping and Joseph Yeh)

 source: Focus Taiwan