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TRADE DEALS/'Excellent progress' on U.S.-Taiwan trade negotiations: Katherine Tai

12/08/2023 06:37 PM
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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in California on Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: CNA
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in California on Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: CNA

Washington, Dec. 7 (CNA) U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Thursday that "excellent progress" was being made on further negotiations following the signing of the first agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade in June.

Tai made the comments during an interview with Bloomberg's David Westin at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington D.C.

Tai said that the trade negotiations that the U.S. was currently undertaking were trying "to be responsive to the data and the feedback that we are receiving from the world economy" as there are just too many changes that are going on simultaneously in the world.

The U.S. is trying to have a trade program for the partner that is tailored to both sides' interests but "also tailored to the challenges and the dynamics that we are navigating together in the global economy," Tai added.

Five issue areas were covered in the first agreement: Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation, Good Regulatory Practices, Services Domestic Regulation, Anticorruption, and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Tai said that after the agreement was signed, "the U.S. Congress in a fit of enthusiasm -- even though they weren't legally required to -- took a vote on it to show their support for what we are doing here."

"We are negotiating another set of disciplines, right as we speak, [and] we've been making excellent progress," Tai said.

Tai said Washington would continue to look at building out those agreements to have an arrangement with the Taiwan economy that is fit for "challenging" times.

When asked by the interviewer whether the U.S. will eventually sign a free trade agreement with Taiwan, Tai said if the said "free trade agreement" is to be understood as the traditional approach "to a very comprehensive, and maximally and aggressively liberalizing agreement," then "no."

"We're not doing that with anybody right now. It's actually insensitive to the dynamics in the global economy and the U.S. economy ... to push on with that program, which may have been fit for the 80s and the 90s," she added.

"It's 2023. We need new policies," Tai said, in light of innovations such as artificial intelligence as well as challenges, including supply chain disruption and geopolitical tensions.

Tai said the U.S. was "embracing innovation in [its] trade policy" that is different from the "old-style trade agreements that we used to do."

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Alison Hsiao)

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