Envoy hopes Taiwan-U.S. trade initiative talks could begin in July

06/28/2022 12:19 PM
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Taiwan's top envoy to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴). CNA photo

Washington, June 27 (CNA) Taiwan's top envoy to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), expressed hope on Monday that official negotiations on a new bilateral trade initiative could begin in July.

Hsiao voiced the expectation after the inaugural meeting for the "U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade," which was launched on June 1, concluded earlier on the same day at the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, D.C.

The closed-door meeting lasted around four hours and was headed by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi and Taiwan's chief trade negotiator John Deng (鄧振中).

Deng, who is currently under isolation in Mexico after being diagnosed with COVID-19 there, participated virtually. Hsiao attended the meeting in person.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the meet, Hsiao said the meeting was "productive and comprehensive."

Asked about the possible timetable on the launch of official talks on the new framework, Hsiao said the framework was currently at the "open comment period" stage which will last until July 8.

"We hope that official talks could begin soon after the open comment period is over," she said, noting that the exact timetable will be jointly decided by both sides.

According to the USTR website, the public comment period, which lasts for 30 days, invites "interested parties to submit comments to assist USTR as it develops negotiating objectives and positions for the agreements contemplated by the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade."

In a USTR press release issued following the conclusion of the inaugural meet, Bianchi was quoted as saying that the U.S. and Taiwan had a "long-standing trade and investment relationship rooted in shared values."

"This initiative will unlock market opportunities, promote innovation and create inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses," she said.

Bianchi and Deng also reiterated their shared interest to develop concrete ways to deepen the U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for workers and businesses.

They also discussed the development of an ambitious roadmap for negotiations to reach agreements with "high-standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes."

The commitments will cover a number of trade areas, including trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, small- and medium-sized enterprises, digital trade, labor, environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market policies and practices, the USTR said.

Bianchi and Deng also held roundtable conversations with several groups of U.S. and Taiwan stakeholders, according to the press release.

The meeting was also joined by Congress members and labor and business leaders who shared their views on the ways Washington and Taipei could jointly advance trade policies that benefit workers and businesses and "promote inclusive, fair, and responsible growth in a way that benefits both of their economies," the USTR said.

Both sides agreed to hold additional discussions in the near future, it concluded.

(By Chiang Ching-yeh and Joseph Yeh)

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