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U.S. officials to travel to Taiwan for Jan. 14-17 trade talks

BY: DOUG PALMER | 01/04/2023 09:35 AM EST

U.S. trade officials will travel to Taiwan later this month for the first formal round of talks on a proposed trade agreement that is moving forward despite objections from Beijing.

The U.S. delegation will be led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Terry McCartin and will include representatives from several other U.S. government agencies, USTR said on Wednesday. McCartin is a mid-level career U.S. trade official, who reports to Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The talks, scheduled for Jan. 14-17 in the Taiwanese capital city of Taipei, will take place under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States since the two sides do not have formal diplomatic relations. AIT and TECRO serve as the de facto embassies of each country.

The United States and Taiwan agreed last year to launch talks on U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade and held two days of preliminary “conceptual discussions” in New York on November.

The proposed pact is less than a full-fledged free trade agreement since it would not require either side to make tariff cuts. Instead, the two sides agreed to a negotiating mandate in August that envisions reaching agreements in a variety of areas, such as customs procedures, good regulatory practices and strong anti-corruption standards.

The negotiations are also aimed at boosting trade opportunities for farmers and small and medium enterprises in both the U.S. and Taiwan, and setting rules in areas like labor, the environment, state-owned enterprises and non-market policies and practices.

Many of the rules negotiations are intended to set a tough standard for Chinese competitors to meet.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, is opposed to the United States or any other country engaging with the self-governed island in a way that enhances Taipei’s ambitions for full independence.

However, USTR said the negotiations were consistent with the United States’ longstanding “one China policy,” which recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China but does accept Beijing’s claim to have sovereignty over the island.

But at the same time, the United States also has excluded Taiwan from negotiations on a regional agreement known as the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in deference to concerns other countries have about alienating Beijing if they engage in trade talks with Taipei.

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