Taiwan-U.S. dialogue to be held by year-end: economics minister

09/02/2020 09:15 PM
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Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (facing). CNA photo Sept. 2, 2020
Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (facing). CNA photo Sept. 2, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) The newly announced Economic and Commercial Dialogue between Taiwan and the United States will be held by the end of this year, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said Wednesday.

According to Wang, topics to be discussed will include semiconductors and 5G, as well as strategies in the Indo-Pacific region and supply chain restructuring.

The two sides are still discussing when and how to launch the dialogue, Wang told the press before attending a press conference held by the semiconductor industry.

She also said the dialogue will be launched before formal talks are held under the existing bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) framework.

The last time such talks took place was in October 2016.

Meanwhile, a senior official familiar with the matter said on the condition of anonymity that the dialogue could be held in September or October at the earliest.

David Stilwell, assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, announced on Monday the planned launch of the new senior-level dialogue in a statement released by the American Institute in Taiwan.

The Department of State's Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Keith Krach will head the dialogue, according to the statement.

The announcement was made after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday said her administration will set maximum residue levels (MRL) for the controversial veterinary drug ractopamine in pork to allow imports of such pork from the U.S., starting Jan. 1, 2021.

Taiwan will also open its market to U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months, which had been banned because of fears of mad-cow disease, according to the president.

Tsai said on Wednesday at the ruling Democratic Progressive Party headquarters that she welcomed the U.S. decision to launch the dialogue and added that details will be made public when specific dates and arrangements are decided.

She said Taiwan seeks to strengthen bilateral investments and broaden cooperation in infrastructure and energy through the dialogue.

According to Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), who met with Chinese-language media outlets in Washington on Tuesday, talks under TIFA fall under the purview of the U.S. Trade Representative, while the new dialogue platform will cover issues beyond trade, such as energy and information technology.

Hsiao said the new platform does not clash with the TIFA framework, which deals with trade issues, because the U.S. State Department works on an overall strategic and economic level.

As a result, it will be a cross-ministry effort on the Taiwan side, she said.

The ban on U.S. pork containing ractopamine was a thorny issue in the 2016 TIFA talks, Wang said at that time when she was the deputy economics minister leading the Taiwanese delegation.

The leanness enhancing ractopamine is currently banned for use in pigs in Taiwan as well as in the European Union and China because of concerns over its safety for both animals and humans.

However, Taiwan's Council of Agriculture unveiled on Wednesday a planned revision of current regulations regarding the drug, easing the ban on foreign meat imports that use ractopamine.

Nevertheless, the import, production, and use of such drugs will remain banned domestically.

(By Liang Pei-chi, Yeh Su-ping, Stacy Hsu and Kay Liu)

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