WASHINGTON: The US and Taiwan reached an agreement on the first part of their “21st Century” trade initiative covering customs and trade facilitation, regulatory practices, and small business, the US Trade Representative’s office said on Thursday (May 18).
After the initial agreement of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade is signed, negotiations will commence on other trade areas including agriculture, digital trade, labour and environmental standards, state-owned enterprises and non-market policies and practices, USTR said.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement the deal strengthens US-Taiwan relations and demonstrates that they can work together to advance trade priorities for their populations.
“We look forward to continuing these negotiations and finalising a robust and high-standard trade agreement that tackles 21st Century economic challenges,” Tai said.
The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade looks to boost trade by streamlining customs checks, improving regulatory procedures, and establishing anticorruption measures between the United States and the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China has long-claimed as part of its territory.
While the United States and Taiwan do not have official diplomatic relations, they do maintain unofficial ties through the de facto US embassy in the country, the American Institute in Taiwan.
Beijing has in recent years stepped up its threats and rhetoric against Taiwan, increasing military drills in the seas around the island and working to cut off its official ties with countries around the world.
The issue prompts rare bipartisan agreement in the United States, with politicians including Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Democratic predecessor Nancy Pelosi both meeting publicly with the Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen over the last 12 months, drawing sharp criticism from China.
The first agreement under the initiative will allow American businesses “to bring more products to Taiwan and Taiwanese customers, while creating more transparent and streamlined regulatory procedures that can facilitate investment and economic opportunities in both markets, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises”, the statement said.
The agreement, which still needs to be signed by the two sides, will “deepen the trading partnership and enhance US-Taiwan trade flows in order to promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for workers and businesses,” USTR said