Washington and Taipei to begin negotiations later this year in bid to create ‘economically meaningful’ agreements.
The United States and Taiwan have agreed to start formal trade negotiations, in a move aimed at building support for Taiwan and ensuring supply chain resilience amid growing hostility from China.
The US trade representative announced the two sides had “reached consensus on the negotiating mandate” for the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, which was unveiled in June. It said they wanted to reach agreements with “economically meaningful outcomes”.
The agenda for the formal talks covers issues including trade facilitation, agriculture, anti-corruption, and removing discriminatory barriers to trade. It was expected that the first round of talks will take place in the next few months.
It did not mention the possibility of a broad free trade deal, which is something Taiwan has been pressing for.
On Thursday afternoon a spokesman for China’s ministry of foreign affairs called on the US to “refrain from signing agreements” with Taiwan. The spokesman, Wang Wenbin, reiterated his government’s claims that Taiwan is a province of China and its wish that no other countries have formal interactions with it in a way which has “sovereign connotations”. Taiwan functions domestically as an independent country, with its own democratic government, military and currency, but internationally is only recognised as such by 14 other governments.
Taiwan produces most of the world’s highest-tech semiconductors, used in electronics from toys and phones to cars. Citing the product as an example, Kritenbrink said Taiwan had an “increasingly central role in the global economy” and peace and stability across the strait was “crucial”.
Beijing has recently begun to claim the strait as its own sovereign waters, and warned the US not to conduct its freedom of navigation transits through the passage. On Tuesday China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, said such operations would be viewed by Beijing as “escalatory” and supportive of what Beijing terms a “separatist” movement in Taiwan.
Kritenbrink said the freedom of navigation trips were routine, longstanding, and would continue.
“The US will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere that international law allows,” he said.
“It would be deeply destabilising and irresponsible of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) if it were to try and take steps designed to control or restrict the ability of the US or others to transit the strait or … to threaten the ability of shipping and commerce to transit the strait.”