US and Taiwan unveil new trade initiative after Taiwan’s exclusion from US Indo-Pacific Economic Initiative

By Nikki Carvajal and Wayne Chang, CNN

The United States and Taiwan have unveiled a new trade initiative, Taiwan’s trade representative announced on Wednesday, after Taiwan was left out of the U.S. Indo-Pacific economic initiative that President Joe Biden officially announced in Asia last week. .

The new initiative – the US-Taiwanese 21st Century Trade Initiative – marks the official launch of trade negotiations between Taiwan and the United States. It is a precursor to signing a free trade agreement, Taiwan Trade Representative John Deng said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The initiative covers 11 key areas, including “trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, support for small and medium enterprises, digital trade, labor rights, environment, standards, public enterprises and non-market practices and policies,” Deng said.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that a key goal is to “develop an ambitious roadmap for the negotiations to reach agreements with high-level commitments and economically meaningful outcomes.”

Deng hailed the move as a “historic breakthrough” for Taiwan, as it opens up space for more trade and economic cooperation with the United States. He added that it includes important elements of a regional trade agreement, which could lead to the early signing of the “long-awaited” bilateral trade deal between Taiwan and the United States.

The launch of the initiative will take place alongside Taiwan’s continued efforts to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, Deng added.

Deng will travel to Washington, DC, in late June to participate in the first meeting under the initiative.

The Biden administration said Tuesday that U.S. officials were negotiating with Taiwan to develop a new trade initiative.

In a call with reporters, an administration official said through the initiative, “we intend to explore ways to deepen our bilateral economic and trade relations and achieve concrete results. for our people”.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we will move quickly to develop a roadmap for possible negotiations, followed by face-to-face meetings in Washington DC next month,” the official said. “Key areas of our negotiations include trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, support for our small and medium enterprises, digital trade outcomes, labor rights, environment, standards, public enterprises and non-market practices and policies.”

The talks come after Biden unveiled his long-awaited Asia economic plan in a speech in Tokyo — the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF — which includes 13 partner countries. But that doesn’t include Taiwan, which was an open issue as Biden hatched a plan to create an economic sphere to counter China’s growing influence in the region. On Tuesday, officials appeared willing to eventually include Taiwan in IPEF — even developing a similar framework bilaterally.

“We are committed to finding ways to deepen business investment with Taiwan, which is why we have developed this initiative,” a senior official said. “We believe this move will allow us to focus more on our partnership with Taiwan and better tailor the conversation and unique characteristics of our business relationship.”

The official said that although Taiwan was not included in the “initial launch” of IPEF, “going forward, we intend to take a flexible and adaptable approach to IPEF participation. “.

“There is still … time in the process,” the official added.

The deal will not require congressional approval, officials said, because there are “no market access requirements” included. Still, one official wanted to “emphasize that we will engage … quite substantially with Congress and other stakeholders.”

“Obviously there’s a lot of interest more broadly about relations with Taiwan and the substance of what we’re doing here,” the official added. “There is obviously a lot of dialogue with Congress more broadly on these issues, and we will move forward with them.”

This story and its title have been updated with additional reporting.

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CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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