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AIT Calls For Clean Slate On US-Taiwan TIFA

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

06 December 2010

The American Institute in Taiwan’s Chairman, Raymond F. Burghardt, in a recent speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, said that, while Taiwan is one of the United States’ most important economic partners, and closer economic relations are in the interest of both countries, the present beef controversy should not be allowed to become an obstacle to re-booting their bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Talks under the TIFA have been on hold since 2007, but the two sides disclosed in October this year that they were working to finalize mutually agreeable dates for the next meeting of its council. They were said to be targeting late this year, or early in 2011.

Burghardt confirmed that the TIFA is an important mechanism for strengthening the two countries’ trade relations. He demonstrated that Taiwan is the US’s 9th largest trading partner, “larger than India, Italy, or Brazil”, with two-way trade amounting to more than USD46bn in 2009. Approximately 11% of Taiwan's exports are destined for the US. In addition, that trade is growing at a brisk rate this year - in the first nine months of 2010, total US exports to Taiwan increased by 50% compared to the same period in 2009.

He also pointed out that the US is the largest foreign investor in Taiwan with cumulative direct investments of over USD21bn, a 19.6% share of total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan. Taiwan's stock of foreign direct investment in the US equals USD12.2bn, or about 19% of Taiwan's outbound FDI.

Through dialogue in the TIFA, he said that the two countries “explore ways to deepen our trade relations and improve our bilateral economic cooperation while at the same time discussing and working to resolve outstanding trade and investment issues. Our cooperation under this agreement is longstanding, dating back to 1994.”

However, Burghardt added that, “despite our excellent overall trade relations, the US and Taiwan also have faced significant challenges over the past several years. We still have a number of concerns about Taiwan's restrictions on the import of certain US beef and beef products, as well as unnecessarily burdensome import and quarantine measures.”

“These measures have been implemented despite our agreement last October on a bilateral protocol on beef that was consistent with science, with international guidelines, and with Taiwan's own risk assessment which determined that US beef is safe. Taiwan's failure to implement this bilateral agreement has complicated our trade relationship by calling into question Taiwan's reliability and credibility as a negotiating partner.”

“Notwithstanding these ongoing concerns, it is important for the US and Taiwan not to let the dispute over beef imports overshadow our excellent trading relationship,” he said. “Taiwan and the US will continue to work together to reinvigorate the TIFA process”, and they were “still in the process of preparing for the next TIFA meeting in the near future.”

In fact, he said that it is planned for the meeting’s agenda to include a wide range of bilateral trade issues of interest to both sides. He disclosed that the US is “looking at areas such as electronic commerce, transparency, customs administration and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade and standards, enforcement of intellectual property rights, and cooperation in labor affairs.”

TAGS: tax | investment | trade treaty | investment treaty | Taiwan | agreements | trade disputes | United States | trade

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