Taiwan and the United States have agreed to resume trade and investment talks by the end of this year at the earliest, Taiwan’s government said, the first such talks in three years.
The two will restart the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) forum, a dialogue platform between Taiwan and its second-largest trade partner originally signed in 1994, after a United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Department of Commerce delegation visited Taiwan.
“The delegation and the ministry had an extensive discussion, including how to broaden and deepen the trade relationship based on TIFA,” the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a statement.
The decision to restart comes as tension grows over trade and currency issues between the U.S. and Taiwan’s political rival China, and on the heels of a landmark trade deal between China and Taiwan that draws the two closer together than ever.
Analysts said the decision to restart the Taiwan talks is not likely to be connected with trade tensions with China.
“The timing of the announcement is a bit coincidental,” said David Huang, a international politics research fellow at the Academia Sinica think tank in Taipei.
“It is a fact that Taiwan has been striving for progress in TIFA talks.”
No talks under TIFA have been held since 2007. The two sides are not obliged to meet at any regular interval, and the U.S. presidential elections and a row over Taiwan’s ending of a beef import treaty early this year have kept any high-level talks off the agenda.
Taiwan hopes the TIFA talks could result in a trade agreement similar to the one with China, but U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration had shown no sign that it was considering a free trade pact with Taiwan. (Reuters)