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TRADE DEALS/Taiwan seeks to up agricultural exports to U.S. as trade talks begin

04/29/2024 02:15 PM
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Deputy Trade Representative Yang Jen-ni (right) of Taiwan greets Assistant United States Trade Representative for China, Mongolia and Taiwan Affairs Terry McCartin (left) in Taipei Monday. CNA photo April 29, 2024
Deputy Trade Representative Yang Jen-ni (right) of Taiwan greets Assistant United States Trade Representative for China, Mongolia and Taiwan Affairs Terry McCartin (left) in Taipei Monday. CNA photo April 29, 2024

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Taiwan's deputy trade representative on Monday pledged to push for more Taiwanese agricultural products to be exported to the United States during the latest round of trade talks between the two countries that kicked off in Taipei on Monday.

The latest round of in-person negotiating as part of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade began in Taipei on Monday morning at the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN), which is part of the Executive Yuan, in Taipei.

The Taiwanese delegation is led by Deputy Trade Representative Yang Jen-ni (楊珍妮), while the U.S. side is headed by Assistant United States Trade Representative for China, Mongolia and Taiwan Affairs Terry McCartin.

Before the beginning of the closed-door talks that will last until Saturday, Yang told reporters that the latest round of negotiations will focus on issues concerning labor, environmental protection and agriculture.

She said these topics were more complex compared to those covered in the previous round of talks because both countries have different legal frameworks and regulations relating to them.

"That is why we need to talk face to face, to get an understanding of our differences," she said.

Yang would not disclose more details on the issues that would be touched on during the scheduled five-day talks, including if food safety and security would be included. This line of questioning came as reporters spotted Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) at OTN on Monday morning.

Yang meanwhile told reporters that the OTN has prepared Taiwan's world-famous bubble milk tea and several Taiwanese specialities, including pineapples, guavas, and passion fruit, to welcome the visiting American delegation.

Asked if the agricultural products had been selected as part of a push to get wider access to the U.S. market, Yang said that is her goal, without expanding what exact products were in focus.

Taiwan was the seventh-largest export market for U.S. agricultural and related products in 2023, with a total value of US$3.7 billion. Meanwhile, the U.S. remained the number one export market for Taiwan's agricultural and related products for the second consecutive year in a row.

The total amount exported by Taiwanese agricultural firms totaled 17 percent (US$935 million) of Taiwan's 2023 exports, U.S. government data shows.

According to both governments, the delegations are expected to discuss several areas outlined in the initiative's negotiating mandate. These meetings will be closed to the press and additional details about subsequent negotiating rounds will be provided at a later date.

The 21st Century Trade Initiative was launched in 2022 under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. on behalf of both governments in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

In June 2023, the two sides signed the first pact under the initiative, agreeing on customs administration and trade facilitation, regulatory practices, domestic regulation of services, anti-corruption, and matters relating to small and medium-sized enterprises.

After holding in-person negotiations last August in Washington D.C., the two sides are currently working toward a second agreement.

(By Lai Yu-chen and Joseph Yeh)

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