Taiwan concessions on U.S. meat to ease way for BTA: economists

08/30/2020 05:05 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 30 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States are likely to move toward negotiating a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) following Taiwan's announcement that it would ease restrictions on imports of pork and beef from the U.S., economists said Saturday.

Taiwan's government said it will allow imports of pork containing the controversial feed additive ractopamine and beef from cattle aged over 30 months, both of which have been barred because of safety concerns.

Making those concessions eliminated some of the main barriers the U.S. has cited as impeding the possibility of closer trade ties between the two sides.

U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, welcomed Taiwan's planned move to allow pork with ractopamine, expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Their responses reflected a tacit agreement between Taiwan and the U.S., signaling that bilateral trade relations could progress further in the near future, said Lee Chun (李淳), deputy director of the Taiwan World Trade Organization and Regional Trade Agreements Center of the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research, on Saturday.

It would come as no surprise if the U.S. were to announce it would move toward beginning negotiations on a BTA with Taiwan, according to Lee.

The U.S. became Taiwan's second largest export market in May for the first time in 11 years, and because of strengthening trade ties, particularly in the semiconductor and 5G industries, Lee said bilateral ties could be boosted in the near future.

Lee did not predict how long it might take to negotiate a trade deal but said that if one is signed, Taiwanese businesses will benefit from zero or preferential tariffs on exports to the U.S., Lee said.

Taiwan's machinery sector could be one of the beneficiaries, according to Lee.

He said Taiwanese machine makers have already seen exports to the U.S. increase as demand has grown because of a greater emphasis on bringing back manufacturing to the U.S., and being able to ship machines duty-free would give local exporters an extra edge in the market.

A trade deal could also provide additional protection to Taiwanese investment through the legal system and would be conducive to establishing a regular, systematic dialogue between Taiwan and the U.S., he said.

Meanwhile, Wang Chien-chuan (王健全), vice president of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, said Saturday that signing a trade pact with the U.S. would be of great importance to Taiwan's export-oriented economy.

It would benefit all industries that export products to the U.S. market, including steel, petrochemical, textile and consumer products and might even make other countries more willing to sign trade pacts with Taiwan, Wang argued.

(By Wu Chia-jung and Evelyn Kao)


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