Taiwan, U.S. finalize first agreement under trade initiative
Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States have concluded negotiations on the first phase of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which is expected to be signed by the two sides in the coming weeks, the Office of Trade Negotiations said Friday.
Officially called the "First Agreement" under the initiative, its text comprises eight chapters and over 80 articles and is being called the most detailed trade agreement signed between Taiwan and the U.S. since 1979, when formal bilateral ties were severed.
The office described the document as a milestone that will serve as a crucial "building block" in efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement between the two countries and shows that Taiwan's trade system meets high international standards.
Unlike standard trade pacts, this initial agreement did not cover tariff reductions or exemptions. Rather, it outlined practices and procedures related to a host of topics aimed at streamlining and strengthening trade relations.
The areas covered were customs and trade facilitation, regulatory practices, domestic regulation of services, anti-corruption practices, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Under the new deal, the two sides have committed to working to facilitate bilateral trade and investment flows, improve regulatory practices, promote anti-corruption measures, and minimize unnecessary formalities at the border.
It also establishes a foundation for addressing trade and investment challenges and opportunities over time.
However, according to Taiwan's Executive Yuan, the administrative arm of the government, at least seven areas remain on the agenda for bilateral negotiations, which it hoped will be finalized by the end of 2023.
The conclusions reached during any future talks will be added to the "First Agreement" to lay a even more solid foundation, the Executive Yuan said in a statement.
No time frame was given for when the next meeting will be held. Taiwan and the U.S. launched the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade on June 1, 2022, and have since held two rounds of negotiations in New York and Taipei, as well as several video conferences.
"This accomplishment represents an important step forward in strengthening the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship," U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement Thursday.
"It demonstrates how we can work together and advance mutual trade priorities on behalf of our people. We look forward to continuing these negotiations and finalizing a robust and high-standard trade agreement that tackles pressing 21st century economic challenges."
Tai noted that the two sides managed to conclude talks on the initial agreement in less than a year.
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