US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement

Tracking news and information about the proposed US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

Friday, December 23, 2005

FAPA TO PUSH FOR SIGNING OF FTA BETWEEN TAIWAN, U.S.

CNA

Monday, December 19, 2005

Washington Trade Daily, Volume 14, Number 240

The US and Taiwan

The new US trade official in charge of China downplayed Taiwan’s prospects for a bilateral trade pact with the United States, saying that Taipei is not being “helpful” in the World Trade Organization agriculture negotiations (WTD, 5/31/05).

One factor that the Administration takes into account in choosing free trade partners is whether the country is making a positive contribution in the ongoing WTO Doha negotiations. “Right now, Taiwan’s position has not been all that helpful,” commented new Assistant US Trade Representative for China Affairs Timothy P. Stratford.

The USTR official cited Taiwan’s involvement in the Group-of-10 “defensive” agriculture countries that has tried to block movement on global farm trade liberalization (see related report this issue). Mr. Stratford spoke to the US-Taiwan Business Council Friday.

Taiwan also must to resolve some big bilateral trade irritants before it can qualify for an FTA. The country’s continued ban on US beef imports – despite scientific data showing US beef is safe – remains a roadblock to better relations. It also is unclear whether Taiwan has fully privatized its telecommunications industry, as required by its entry into the WTO.

There has been improvement in the area of intellectual property rights protection. The United States in 2004 dropped Taiwan from a priority country under the Special 301 IPR protection law to the watch-list. But more improvement is needed, the official stated.

Mr. Stratford noted that the Administration so far has not heard much from the business community in favor of a free trade pact with Taiwan. And with Presidential Trade Promotion Authority expiring mid-2007, there is the “practical consideration” of whether FTA negotiations could be completed in that time frame.

Although a trade agreement is not in the immediate cards, the two countries will continue negotiations early next year on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – which is often viewed as a precursor to an FTA. TIFA negotiations were last held in November 2004 and have been delayed this year by some key personnel vacancies at USTR. But now that Deputy US Trade Representative Karan Bhatia – and Mr. Stratford himself – are in place, the next TIFA meeting is likely to take place early next year in Taiwan.

On another issue, Mr. Stratford said USTR is aiming to complete work by the end of this year on the “top-to-bottom” review of China promised by US Trade Representative Rob Portman during his Senate confirmation hearing (WTD, 6/24/05).

'RIGHT TIME' IS KEY FOR TAIWAN-U.S. FTA: U.S. OFFICIAL

UPCOMING TIFA MEETING NOT LINKED WITH FTA ISSUE: U.S. TRADE OFFICIAL