US and Taiwan hold trade talks in a move blasted by China

US trade officials traveled to Taiwan to begin four days of talks on a proposed trade deal that has drawn opposition from the People’s Republic of China.

The meeting between US and Taiwanese negotiators in Taipei – scheduled to begin on Saturday and run through Tuesday – marks the first formal talks on the text of a trade deal since the initial round of meetings in November. Discussions will focus on specific deals covering anti-corruption standards, small and medium businesses trade, regulatory practices and trade facilitation.

While the U.S. and Taiwan reach agreement on some of these areas, building momentum toward a broader trade deal, the two sides may announce isolated deals on what Taiwanese officials call “early harvest” issues. Two of the more challenging areas between the US and Taiwan — agriculture and digital trade — will take longer to negotiate.

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In this photo released by Taiwan’s presidential office, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, right, speaks as Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, left, leader of the German parliament’s defense committee, listens during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP / AP Newsroom)

A potential trade deal between Taiwan and the US has rankled Chinese officials, with a spokesman for the Chinese embassy accusing the Americans of making a “mistake” by even discussing the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported in November.

“China has always been against any country negotiating economic and trade agreements with China’s Taiwan region that have sovereign influence or official character,” the spokesman said.

Although the democratic, autonomous island nation has never ruled since the Chinese Communist Party seized control of the mainland in 1949 following a 22-year civil war, Taiwan is considered a rogue province by the PRC. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other senior CCP officials have repeatedly refused to rule out the use of force to bring about Taiwan’s “reunification” with the PRC.

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The Office of the US Trade Representative announced the new negotiations with Taiwan in accordance with long-standing policies, including the Taiwan Relations Act, which governs the United States’ unofficial diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. Dispute between PRC and Taiwan.

The US delegation to Taiwan for this round of trade talks is led by Terry McCartin, Assistant US Trade Representative for China Affairs, who is responsible for developing US trade policy in China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Hong Kong and Macau. Officials from other US agencies are also on the trip.

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The trade talks are being held under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, covering 11 trade areas, including the areas that are the focus of this round of talks. Among other things the initiative will cover is addressing labor and environmental standards and trade distortions caused by state-owned enterprises.

A potential trade agreement between the US and Taiwan would serve as a bilateral companion to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, which the Biden administration announced over the summer with a dozen countries in the region.

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The US Trade Representative’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.


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