US and Taiwan start trade talks after Joe Biden excludes island from Indo-Pacific group – Times of India


WASHINGTON: The United States will start new trade talks with Taiwan, US officials said on Wednesday, just days after President Joe Biden launched an economic plan for Asia aimed at pushing back China that excluded the China-claimed island.
Washington and Taipei will “quickly develop a roadmap” for the planned US-Taiwan initiative on 21st century trade in the coming weeks, followed by face-to-face meetings in the US capital later in June, two senior US government officials told reporters .
The initiative would aim to “reach an agreement with high-quality commitments that create inclusive and sustainable prosperity” on issues such as customs facilitation, the fight against corruption, common standards for digital trade, labor rights, high environmental standards and efforts to curb state-owned enterprises and non-market practices, one of the US officials said.
The bilateral initiative largely parallels the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), an economic partnership with 13 Asian countries that it launched last week during a visit to Seoul and Tokyo. But the United States has not invited democratically self-governed Taiwan to participate in the IPEF talks.
Analysts had said other countries would be hesitant to join the island for fear of angering Beijing, which considers Taiwan its own territory. More than 200 members of the US Congress had called for Taiwan to be included in IPEF.
The announcement about the negotiations with Taiwan came after a virtual meeting on Wednesday between Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi and Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng.
Speaking in Taipei, Deng said they hoped there would soon be a chance to negotiate a free trade deal that Taiwan has long sought with the United States, adding that the island is also still striving to join. to the IPEF.
The talks with Taiwan, led for Washington by the US Trade Representative’s office, would complement several existing dialogues with the island, including one led by the trade department on export controls and other supply chain issues, the US official said.
No tariff reductions, ‘market access’
Like IPEF, the initiative with Taiwan would not require congressional approval as it does not include market access requirements or reduced rates, the official added. The so-called US “fast track” negotiating power for major trade agreements expired in July 2021, and the Biden administration has not asked Congress to extend it.
“We think there are a lot of robust areas that we can cover, that would really deepen our economic engagement, our economic ties, without addressing market access issues. But of course we don’t rule out anything for the future,” the official said.
A second official said the new initiative adds to other efforts to highlight “the US commitment to the region, particularly economically.”
The United States has had no economic pillar for its Indo-Pacific involvement since former President Donald Trump canceled a multinational trans-Pacific trade deal, partly out of concerns over US jobs.
But trading experts have questioned whether Washington could build momentum behind a framework that failed to provide better access to the US market.
The United States has no official relations with Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, but has stepped up its involvement with the island as China attempts to isolate it from global institutions.

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