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Taiwan's TPP bid linked to U.S. beef issue: business council

2012/06/10 16:07:54

Washington, June 9 (CNA) Taiwan's chances of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are linked to the resumption of trade talks with the United States under a bilateral agreement, a non-profit business organization in Washington said Saturday.

If Taiwan's Legislature votes on June 12 to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports containing the livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, the U.S. will resume talks with Taiwan under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), said Rupert J. Hammond- Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council that is based in Washington.

In turn, the only way for Taiwan to win the support of the U.S. to join the TPP is for the two sides to move toward the resumption of TIFA talks, he said in an interview with CNA.

Talks under the TIFA, which was signed in 1994, have been stalled since 2007 mainly over Taiwan's restrictions on U.S. beef imports.

Asked about Taiwan's chances of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S., Hammond- Chambers said "it's not possible at this stage" since U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is currently focused on the TPP, not an FTA.

But if TIFA talks can be resumed, the two sides can discuss issues related to e-commerce and bilateral investment treaties that will help create business opportunities for both sides, he said.

Meanwhile, the office of the United States Trade Representative said in an email interview with CNA that the U.S. will support Taiwan's inclusion in the TPP "at an appropriate time."

The U.S. supports any new membership that shows an ambition to fit the high standards of the TPP, the office said.

Taiwan is eager to be included in the TPP agreement being negotiated by leaders of the nine countries -- Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the U.S..

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Ann Chen)
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