U.S. Senator Cory Gardner calls for trade pact talks with Taiwan

07/30/2020 04:27 PM
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U.S. Senator Cory Gardner / CNA file photo
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner / CNA file photo

Washington, July 29 (CNA) American Senator Cory Gardner on Wednesday called on executive branch of the United States government to initiate discussions soon with Taiwan on a comprehensive Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA).

According to a press release on Gardner's official website Wednesday, he made the proposal in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer earlier in the day.

In the letter, which was also published on the website, Gardner said there is strong bipartisan support in Congress for the growing bilateral economic relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan.

He noted that the U.S. Senate last October unanimously passed the Taipei International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which calls on the U.S. administration to "engage in bilateral trade negotiations with Taiwan, with the goal of entering into a free trade agreement that is of mutual economic benefit and that protects United States workers and benefits United States exporters."

On Taiwan's side, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a speech before the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei last November, formally endorsed a U.S.-Taiwan BTA, Gardner said in the letter, referring to Tsai's statement that such a trade pact between the two countries would strengthen their engagement and set a precedent for a rules-based trade order in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Unfortunately, despite the most favorable environment for U.S.-Taiwan bilateral ties in recent memory, there has been no substantive progress on bilateral trade negotiations," Gardner said in the letter.

He said that in 2018, Taiwan was the U.S.' 12th-largest trading partner for goods and services, with imports and exports of US$95.4 billion in total.

Taiwan was also the 15th-largest foreign investor in the U.S. last year, while American and Taiwanese enterprises together supported almost 100,000 jobs on both sides of the Pacific, Gardner said in the letter to Lighthizer.

"I write to respectfully urge you to immediately initiate meaningful negotiations between the United States and Taiwan on a comprehensive Bilateral Trade Agreement," wrote the senator, who co-authored the TAIPEI Act.

In December last year, 161 U.S. House representatives across party lines also wrote to Lighthizer, urging him to start negotiations with Taiwan on a bilateral trade agreement.

(By Stacy Hsu and Emerson Lim)

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