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U.S. House committee voices backing for initial Taiwan-U.S. trade deal

06/14/2023 11:54 AM
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The U.S. Congress is seen in this photo taken on March 5, 2020. CNA file photo
The U.S. Congress is seen in this photo taken on March 5, 2020. CNA file photo

Washington, June 13 (CNA) The U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation affirming its support for the initial agreement reached under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade.

The bill, which was jointly announced last week by committee chair Jason Smith (R-MO) and ranking member Richard Neal (D-MA), as well as by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID), cleared the committee by a vote of 42-0.

Taiwan and the United States signed a first agreement under their "21st century" trade initiative on June 1, which covered customs and border procedures, regulatory practices and small business in a bid to make trade and investment between the two sides easier.

Following the signing, the sides said they planned to begin negotiations on other, more complicated issues, such as agriculture, digital trade, labor, environmental and nonmarket policies and practices as well as state-owned enterprises and standards.

In a press release Tuesday, the committee said the bill confirms Congress' support for the first agreement under the trade initiative, and also seeks to require congressional consultation and approval for any subsequent agreements that are reached.

More specifically, the bill's latter section refers to an ongoing dispute between the White House and lawmakers of both U.S. parties over the Biden administration's pursuit of limited trade pacts that bypass Congress, another example being a deal on EV battery materials struck with Japan in March.

Procedural debates aside, Smith told the committee he supported the administration's efforts to pursue closer trade relations with Taiwan and believed the substance of the first agreement under the initiative was "sound."

"The people of the United States and the people of Taiwan share an invaluable economic partnership; we share democratic values; and we have strong individual ties between our two nations," Smith said.

Neal, meanwhile, said it was vital for Congress and for American trade policy to support democratic Taiwan amid the "incredible pressure" it faces from its authoritarian neighbor in China.

With the bill's passage in committee, it will be advanced for an eventual vote in the full House. After clearing the House, it would need to be passed by the Senate and signed by the president in order to become law.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Matthew Mazzetta)


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