U.S., Taiwan Advance Economic and Trade Cooperation, U.S. Congressman: White House Considers Launching Trade Talks

The U.S. House of Representatives China Working Group will soon release a report on advancing trade negotiations between the United States and Taiwan. The head of the working group said that initiating bilateral trade talks has been factored into the U.S. administration’s thinking.

U.S. House Republican China Working Group Chairman Michael McCaul said the U.S.-Taiwan trade talks would be “an important foreign policy statement” that would help hold China accountable for the neo-coronavirus pandemic.

McCaul was quoted in a Reuters report issued on Wednesday (Sept. 30) as saying, “This issue is largely on their radar. The “they” here refers to the Trump administration and White House trade negotiator Lighthizer.

In an interview with Reuters, McCall said, “I don’t think Lighthizer is going to agree 100%, but this is one of the many options available. I think the proposal put forward by the China working group carries considerable weight.”

The U.S.-Taiwan trade deal is one of 400 recommendations in a report to be released later Wednesday by the Chinese working group, Reuters said.

The report’s recommendations include consolidating the U.S. supply chain for medical supplies; imposing sanctions on Chinese telecommunications companies that engage in economic and industrial espionage; and assessing the Communist Party’s near-genocidal crackdown on the Uighur Muslim minority.

Taiwan’s presidential spokesman Robert Chang on Wednesday acknowledged progress in U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade cooperation. He said the U.S. and Taiwan signed the “Taiwan-U.S. Infrastructure Financing and Market Building Cooperation Framework” on Sept. 17 and that substantial progress has been made in practical cooperation between the two sides.

Taiwan Finance Minister Su Chien-rong said at a press conference the same day that Washington plans to work with Taiwan to help arrange financing for construction projects in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Su said the new model between Taiwan and the United States will further deepen the relationship between the two countries.

However, the Financial Times is skeptical that the United States has enough interest in further developing trade relations between the United States and Taiwan. So far, the newspaper says, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has shown little interest in starting bilateral trade negotiations with Taiwan. While the U.S. State Department and NSC are supportive, Lighthizer does not want to risk jeopardizing the first phase of Washington’s trade agreement with Beijing.

If Biden is elected, he will not be immediately interested in negotiating bilateral trade between the U.S. and Taiwan, as he will be faced with many other priority issues, according to the Financial Times analysis. The Financial Times estimates that the best-case scenario would be for the two sides to resume negotiations on the four-year-old suspended Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

The United States is Taiwan’s biggest supporter on the international stage. Taiwan has always wanted a free trade agreement with the United States. However, Washington is unhappy with Taiwan’s obstruction of imports of U.S. pork and beef. However, last month, the Taiwanese government announced that starting next January, Taiwan will lift this restriction, paving the way for bilateral trade talks to begin.

According to statistics, last year, U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade was $85.5 billion, and the U.S. had a trade deficit of $23.1 billion. 2019, Taiwan is the U.S.’s 14th largest export market.