TAIPEI: The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan urged the United States to “urgently” begin negotiations with Taiwan on a free trade agreement with the goal of presenting a final text for passage in 2024, according to its annual policy paper issued on Wednesday (Jun 22).
As a significant display of solidarity for the Chinese-claimed island in the face of relentless diplomatic and military pressure from Beijing, Taiwan has long lobbied for such an agreement. There is a claim that it has shared democratic ideals with the United States.
The Biden administration omitted Taiwan from its Asia-focused economic strategy aimed to challenge China’s expanding influence, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, last month. Taiwan enjoys significant bipartisan backing in Congress and the Senate.
AmCham Taiwan urged the government to begin negotiations with Taiwan on a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) “immediately” so that a “finished text” may be offered for approval by Congress in 2024, according to AmCham Taiwan.
Taiwan’s main semiconductor industry’s economic and security consequences would be adequately addressed if other like-minded partners entered into similar agreements with Taiwan.
There are further benefits to a BTA, such as enhancing the security of both the US and Taiwan’s economies and, thus, the general safety of both countries against Chinese aggression.
It was highlighted, however, that the chamber, which has members from more than 500 foreign corporations, expressed concern about the lack of movement on such an agreement.
“No strong evidence” that the Biden administration is contemplating a BTA in the short future, Chamber President Andrew Wylegala told reporters in Taipei, although one may emerge later.
To that end, he went on to say that he “would put Taiwan in that small and rare group of partners that the US would consider” as very attractive to lure into an FTA.
A new US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade will see high-level trade negotiations between the two countries in Washington, D.C., at the end of this month.