Biden Administration Begins Trade Dialogue with Taiwan

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Wednesday it would seek negotiations to strengthen trade and technology ties with Taiwan, a move aimed at countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region and likely to anger Beijing.

The announcement follows the Biden administration’s efforts to build an Asia-Pacific economic bloc, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, that includes 13 countries and excludes Taiwan.

China claims the island, an autonomous democracy that is central to global technology supply chains, as an undisputed part of its territory.

While Taiwan expressed interest in becoming a full member of the Indo-Pacific framework, many participating countries found that prospect too controversial.

The talks with Taiwan will cover many of the same topics as the framework, from digital trade to cutting red tape for importers and exporters. US officials said the talks, the first of which will take place in Washington in late June, will focus on a range of issues, including opening up agricultural trade and aligning technology standards.

Several topics of discussion are clearly aimed at addressing mutual complaints about Chinese business practices. US officials said they would work with Taiwan to eliminate forced labor in global supply chains and develop provisions to compete with the non-commercial practices of state-owned companies.

The negotiations will take place on two tracks, with the United States trade representative in charge of trade affairs and the Commerce Department in charge of technology and investment, including the coordination of export controls and measures to secure semiconductor supply chains.

“Taiwan is an incredibly important partner for us, especially when it comes to semiconductors,” commerce secretary Gina Raimondo said at a briefing on Tuesday, adding, “We look forward to continuing to deepen our economic ties with Taiwan.”

Taiwan has long pushed for deeper trade ties with the United States. In 2020, he eased restrictions on US beef and pork imports in an effort to draw the United States into formal negotiations. The following year, the United States and Taiwan resumed some trade talks despite opposition from Beijing.

Since then, a global shortage of semiconductors, one of Taiwan’s most valuable exports, has further increased the island’s strategic importance.

Because the Biden administration’s negotiations with Taiwan would not include so-called market access provisions that require changes to US law, the administration does not anticipate needing congressional approval for any deal, senior officials said, although they added that they would continue to consult with Congress. in the process.

Given the contested status of Taiwan, the two sides will also meet unofficially and under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto US embassy in Taipei, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which represents Taiwan in the United States in the absence of diplomatic recognition.

Senior US officials said in a call with reporters on Tuesday that while they did not include Taiwan among the initial members negotiating the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, they intended to take a flexible approach to participation in the future.

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