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Taiwan to send high-level official to U.S. for tariff negotiations

2018/03/17 15:41:24

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Washington, March 16 (CNA) Taiwan's government is planning to send a high-level official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to the U.S. to negotiate for the exemption of the country's steel and aluminum exports from recently announced tariffs, according to an unnamed official from Taiwan's representative office in the U.S.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the visit will take place before March 23, which is when the tariffs will go into effect for any steel and aluminum imports into the U.S. from countries not on the exemption list.

The White House announced on March 8 that U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.

The order makes it clear, however, that countries who wish to obtain a waiver to these tariffs are allowed to come up with "satisfactory alternative means" to address current trade inequities.

In the cases of Canada and Mexico, the only two countries that have been temporarily exempt from the get-go, this means complying with U.S. demands in renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The day after the U.S. announced the tariff plan, the ministry issued a statement noting that it would seek negotiations with the U.S. on this matter.

Taiwan's government is hoping that its MOEA official will be able to convey the importance of Taiwan to the U.S. as both a trade partner and a security ally, the official said.

According to the MOEA data, Taiwan's steel product exports to the U.S. totaled US$1.3 billion in 2017, accounting for 13.16 percent of Taiwan's total steel exports, while its aluminum product exports to the U.S. totaled US$44 million, or 6.15 percent of its total aluminum exports.

In 2017, the U.S. was the largest buyer of Taiwan's steel products, and the sixth-largest buyer of Taiwanese aluminum products.

In the area of security, Taiwan has reiterated on many occasions its commitment to standing with the U.S. in protecting regional peace and stability.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Kuan-lin Liu)