U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken hinted Monday at the possibility of restarting trade and investment talks with Taiwan that have stalled since the Obama administration, but did not show any willingness to reach the comprehensive trade agreement that Taipei has been seeking. During a congressional hearing questioning, Blinken said: “I know we are in discussions with Taiwan or will begin discussions soon on some form of framework agreement.” Blinken said he would have to refer the issue to U.S. Trade Representative David Deitch to explain. Reuters said any such agreement could anger China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday that the United States will soon begin negotiations on a trade deal with Taiwan, according to an AFP report. Answering a hearing question in Congress, Blinken said: “I know that we are in discussions with Taiwan or will begin discussions soon on some form of framework agreement. Those discussions should begin,” he said at a congressional hearing in Washington.
A possible U.S. trade deal with Taiwan may not please China, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces and has threatened to use force if it formally declares independence or intervenes from outside. The United States severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979, recognizing Beijing as the sole official representative of China. But the U.S. remains Taiwan’s strongest ally and number one arms supplier.
Taiwan must have the means to defend itself, according to Blinken, who reiterated Monday. “We continue to provide significant equipment to Taiwan for this purpose,” he added, adding that there are “genuine concerns about the growing aggressiveness of the government in Beijing toward Taiwan.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken hinted Monday at the possibility of restarting trade and investment talks with Taiwan that have stalled since the Obama administration, but did not show any desire to reach the comprehensive trade agreement that Taipei has been seeking, according to Reuters.
At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department’s annual budget request, Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration’s position on a bilateral trade deal with Taiwan. Any such agreement could anger China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
A spokeswoman for Taiwan’s representative office in Washington said, “We are trying to have discussions with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which is expected to move our bilateral trade relationship forward,” the report said.
Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Blinken’s comments are a signal that Washington may push to resume the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Taiwan, which has not been held since the Obama administration. However, she said, the Biden administration may not yet decide whether to take a bigger step in reaching a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan. According to Gloria, “Senior officials in the Biden administration have been encouraging U.S. Trade Representative Dyche to hold a round of TIFA negotiations, and Taiwan is eager to negotiate as soon as possible.”
The TIFA talks stalled after former President Barack Obama left office in 2016 and his successor, Trump’s trade representative Lighthizer, focused on trade talks with China. China may criticize the resumption of TIFA consultations because Beijing fears the talks could eventually lead to a free trade agreement between the two sides and encourage other countries, such as the United Kingdom, to open trade talks with Taiwan, according to Greig. China will also see such consultations as part of Biden’s strategy to strengthen relations with Taiwan, and they will see the U.S. as weakening its commitment to “one China,” according to Greer, referring to the longstanding U.S. policy of recognizing the Beijing government over the Taipei government, according to Reuters. The government’s longstanding policy.