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Taiwan expresses hope for trade deal after economic talks with US China

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Taiwan has expressed confidence in a trade deal with the United States, after Taipei and Washington held talks on strengthening their economic ties in the face of growing pressure on the island from China.

Joseph Wu, speaking to reporters in Taipei, said on Saturday he expected the new government of US President-elect Joe Biden to back a much-sought bilateral trade deal, given bipartisan support for the decision of the lawmakers in Washington.

I think bipartisan support for Capitol Hill is still very strong, and I think that type of support for a Taiwan-U.S. BTA will continue in the new administration, he said, following the economic negotiations. high level with Washington.

Last month, Frank Jannuzi, a key aide to Biden when the president-elect was in Congress, wrote that Washington should prioritize free trade talks with Taiwan to encourage others, including Britain, the European Union and Japan, to do the same.

And in October, 50 U.S. senators from both sides called on President Donald Trumps’ administration to begin negotiating a trade deal with the island.

The Friday talks, held under the auspices of a New Partnership for Economic Prosperity Dialogue, were not tied to a possible trade deal, but instead focused on areas such as science and technology, restructuring supply chain, 5G networks and global health security.

Held both virtually and in person, it was led on the US side by Under Secretary of State Keith Krach, who had already angered China with a visit to Taipei in September.

Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi brought a delegation to Washington, DC for the talks.

A statement from the Taiwans representative office in Washington said the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an institutionalized dialogue mechanism.

And to give a nod to the importance of Taiwanese technology as a global chip maker for Apple Inc, the Taiwanese government said that the two sides confirmed that the strategic cooperation in the semiconductor industry was a mutual priority.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, announced plans for a $ 12 billion semiconductor plant in Arizona this year, a move by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that would increase l economic independence of the United States from China.

The US State Department said in a statement that the two sides have agreed to negotiate a science and technology agreement to advance joint understanding and collaboration on a wide range of science and technology topics.

Future talks will help strengthen their economic relations and our common commitment to free markets, entrepreneurship and freedom, he added.

The dialogue, which Taiwan hopes will eventually lead to a free trade agreement, is part of an increased US engagement with Taipei under the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump, which has angered Beijing.

China claims to democratically manage Taiwan as its own territory and reacted with fury when US Secretary of Health Alex Azar visited Taipei in August, followed by Crash in September, each time sending fighter jets close to it. ‘Isle.

Azar was the highest U.S. official to visit Taiwan since Washington transferred official diplomatic recognition to the mainland in 1979, and Krach was the highest State Department official to visit in those four decades.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-Chang also said on Friday that a third official, US Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler, had been invited to visit for bilateral talks on the international cooperation on environmental protection issues.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times reported that Wheelers’ three-day trip was scheduled for the week of December 5.

In Beijing, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said China opposes any official exchange between the United States and Taiwan, and urged Washington to fully recognize the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue.

China will provide a legitimate and necessary response depending on how the situation develops, Zhao Lijian said during a daily press briefing, without giving further details.

While Trump, a Republican, is a popular figure in Taiwan, the government has taken steps to allay fears that the New Democrat may not be so supportive.

Taiwanese officials have stressed that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in the United States, and last week the de facto Taiwanese ambassador to Washington spoke by phone with Antony Blinken, a longtime confidant of Bidens.

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