Taiwan, US aim for TIFA talks by year end: US official

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Want China Times | 4 August 2015
Taiwan, US aim for TIFA talks by year end: US official

Taiwan and the United States are working toward holding the next round of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) before the end of the year, Charles Rivkin, US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, said Tuesday.

"We are trying hard to schedule a TIFA discussion before the end of the year with Taiwan," Rivkin told the local media.

Earlier this month, Taiwan economic affairs minister John Deng also said that Taiwan was hoping the talks would be held by the end of the year.

Under TIFA, Taiwan and the US will address investment and trade-related issues, Rivkin said when asked about the progress of an investment agreement between the two countries.

"I’m here to find ways of expanding the economic activities between Taiwan and the United States. Investment is one of those ways," said Rivkin, who is on his first trip to Taiwan in his official capacity.

The US is the largest foreign investor in Taiwan, and Taiwanese investment in the US has doubled over the last 15 years, he noted.

While Taipei and Washington are working to set a date for the TIFA talks, they continue to hold unofficial discussions on ways of enhancing the bilateral economic relationship on a daily basis, Rivkin said.

"We have been urging Taiwan to accelerate economic reform efforts and address long-standing issues in our trade relationship," he said. Rivkin said he and Taiwanese officials have been discussing long-standing obstacles to better trade between their two countries.

"We’ve been consistently pushing for open market access and for science to be the basis for making agricultural decisions," he said in response to questions on the trade issues between the two countries.

One of the reasons for his visit is to go through those trade issues with Taiwan authorities, he said, adding that trade liberalization is a complex issue that requires a lot of discussion.

The issues of US pork and beef imports to Taiwan are "high-profile and important issues and are on the agenda," Rivkin said.

On the issue of the proposed US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc, he reiterated that the US "appreciates Taiwan’s interest in TPP."

The TPP is a trade deal that involves high standards, which the interested parties would all have to meet, Rivkin said.

"Sometimes that requires political will and making tough decisions," he added.

The US and 11 other countries are working to conclude negotiations on the TPP, after which each economy interested in joining the trade bloc would have to think about what it needs to do to meet the standards of the agreement, Rivkin said.

Since his arrival in Taiwan on May 31, Rivkin has met with Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou, several senior Taiwanese officials in foreign, economic and national security affairs, and representatives of the private sector to discuss a wide range of economic and trade issues between Taiwan and the US.

He also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Monday to extend Taiwan-US cooperation in the areas of international public health, humanitarian assistance and other global issues.

On Tuesday, he announced a new joint initiative to boost cooperation between the US and Taiwan in the development of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry and the launch of a joint strategy on intellectual property rights and innovation.

Rivkin is the highest official at the US State Department to visit Taiwan in recent years. His visit, which ends Wednesday, followed trips to Taiwan by Kurt Tong, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and Robert Wang, US Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

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