US, Taiwan resume trade talks after 5-year lull

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The United States and Taiwan resumed trade talks for the first time in five years, as the two sides cooperate more closely despite recent warnings from China against “interference.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday that the two sides discussed labor rights and intellectual property, and agreed to hold talks more regularly during the virtual 11th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council meeting.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Terry McCartin and Jen-ni Yang, the deputy trade representative from Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations, led the meeting and “expressed support for joint work to enhance critical supply chain security and resilience,” Taiwan’s office said.

John Feng, Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator, said the meeting was a crucial step toward signing a full trade deal with the United States.

“A deal cannot happen in just a single meeting,” Feng said. “There will be a lot of conversations going forward.”

Trade discussions between Washington and Taipei were not held during the Trump administration. Christian Castro, a former director of the U.S. State Department’s Taiwan Policy Office, said the talks were held early in President Joe Biden‘s term for a reason.

“The TIFA relaunch makes clear that President Biden’s team has accepted the need to continue enhancing U.S.-Taiwan ties along the lines started under the previous administration and give the strengthened relationship as much substantive heft as possible,” Castro said, according to Bloomberg.

“The last time TIFA talks were held in 2016, there was still an innate caution underlying U.S. policy toward Taiwan, but the trajectory has clearly changed.”

The Biden administration has pursued unofficial diplomacy with Taiwan despite Chinese opposition.

“Taiwan is a leading democracy and major economy and a security partner,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “And we will continue to strengthen our relationship across all areas, all the areas we cooperate, including on economic issues.

“We’re committed to the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relationships.”

China does not recognize Taiwanese sovereignty under its one-China policy.

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