The new initiative, the US-Taiwan 21st Century Trade Initiative, marks the official start of trade negotiations between Taiwan and the US. This precedes the signing of 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-sized enterprises, digital commerce, labor rights, environment, standards, public enterprises, and non-market practices and policies,” said Dan.
The Office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement that the key goal is to “develop an ambitious roadmap for negotiations to reach agreements with high standard commitments and economically meaningful results.”
Deng called the initiative a “historic breakthrough” for Taiwan as it opens up space for expanding economic and trade cooperation with the US. He added that it includes important elements of a regional trade agreement, which could lead to the early signing of a “long-awaited” bilateral trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States.
The launch of this initiative will run in parallel with Taiwan’s ongoing efforts to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Prosperity Plan, Deng added.
Dan will travel to Washington DC at the end of June to attend the first meeting of the initiative.
Speaking to reporters, an administration official said that as part of the initiative, “we intend to explore ways to deepen our bilateral economic and trade relations and achieve concrete results for our people.”
“Over the coming days and weeks, we will act quickly to develop a roadmap for possible talks, followed by face-to-face meetings in Washington, D.C. next month,” the official said. “Key areas of our talks include trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, support for our SMEs, digital trade outcomes, labor rights, the environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market practices and policies. .”
The talks began after Biden unveiled his long-awaited Asian 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, about which the question remained open as Biden prepared a plan to create an economic sphere to counter China’s growing influence in the region. On Tuesday, officials seemed poised to eventually include Taiwan in the IPEF – even as a similar structure is being developed at the bilateral level.
“We are looking to find ways to increase investment in trade with Taiwan, which is why we have developed this initiative,” the senior official said. “We think this initiative will allow us to focus more on our partnership with Taiwan and better tailor the conversation and the unique characteristics of our trade relationship.”
The official said that while Taiwan was not included in the IPEF’s “initial launch”, “going forward, we intend to have 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 because it does not include “market access requirements,” officials said. However, one official wanted to “emphasize that we will be engaging with Congress and other stakeholders to a great extent.”
“There is obviously a lot of interest in the broader relationship with Taiwan and the substance of what we are doing here,” the official added. “Obviously there is a wider dialogue with Congress on these issues and we will move forward with them.”
This story and its title have been updated with an additional report.
Kate Sullivan of CNN contributed to this report.