Taiwan and the United States announced that they would begin negotiations on a trade agreement in the early fall. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE
Aug. 18 (UPI) — The United States and Taiwan announced plans to being formal trade talks, weeks after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei sparked a furious response from China.
The first round of negotiations on the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade is expected to take place in early fall, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement Wednesday.
The agreement, which was originally announced in June, will “deepen our trade and investment relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi said.
The Executive Yuan, the Taiwanese government’s executive branch, said Thursday that “both sides showed a high degree of ambition and hoped to achieve concrete results as soon as possible and sign a trade agreement.”
“The signing of the future agreement will help [Taiwan] to strengthen and deepen its economic and trade relations with the United States,” it said in a statement.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday it was “resolutely opposed” to the trade talks.
Washington should “properly handle trade relations with the Taiwan region and respect China’s core interests,” spokeswoman Shu Jueting told a press briefing, according to state-run television network CGTN.
The announcement of the talks comes after Taipei was left out of the Biden administration’s regional economic plan, the 13-country Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which was launched in May.
Taiwan was not invited to join the IPEF amid reports that some member countries were concerned its inclusion would antagonize China, which considers the self-governing island a wayward province. Beijing has worked to isolate Taipei diplomatically and exclude it from international organizations.
The relationship between China and the United States, already at a low ebb in recent years, grew increasingly tense over the visit by Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this month.
Beijing responded by conducting its largest-ever military exercises around the island of 23 million, launching cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns and restricting imports from Taiwan on items such as citrus fruits and frozen mackerel.
Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, John Deng, said in a press conference Thursday that the upcoming trade negotiations could help Washington and Taipei explore ways to “counter economic coercion” by China.
The arrival on Sunday of another U.S. congressional delegation, led by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., sparked a new round of military drills by China.
White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Cambell said last week that the United States would take “calm and resolute steps to uphold peace and stability in the face of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to undermine it.”
In a briefing call with reporters, Campbell said the U.S. military would conduct “standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.”
He added that Washington was working to “deepen our ties with Taiwan, including through continuing to advance our economic and trade relationship.”
Despite its relatively small size, Taiwan is the United States’ 8th-largest trading partner, with $114 billion in total trade in 2021.
The island is one of the world’s largest producers of semiconductors and other electronic components, accounting for more than 60% of the global contract chip manufacturing market.
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