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Bilateral talks between the United States and Taiwan, which ended when Donald Trump became US president, are set to resume within weeks. Taiwan needs bilateral deals to overcome the isolation imposed by China. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also wants to join the CPTPP multilateral agreement. China rejects any agreement with implications for Chinese sovereignty over its Taiwan “region”.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – Taiwan and the United States will resume free trade talks in the coming weeks, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said on Thursday.
This followed a virtual meeting between US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng.
The island has been pursuing a major trade deal with Washington for years. Discussions broke down after the 10th negotiating meeting in 2016 at the start of the Trump presidency.
The Republican leader was unhappy with Taiwanese restrictions on imports of US products, especially agricultural goods.
The Taiwanese need to expand bilateral trade relations. Due to opposition from China, Taiwan is excluded from many regional trade mechanisms. Beijing considers the island a rebel province to be retaken by force if necessary.
Taiwan is member of the World Trade Organisation and has entered into trade agreements with Singapore and New Zealand.
In addition to a free trade deal with the United States, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen formally applied for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) promoted by former US President Barack Obama.
Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are currently members of this multilateral pact.
However, most countries are reluctant to sign agreements with Taiwanese, fearing Chinese retaliation.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signalled the possible restart of trade talks with Taipei, sparking an immediate negative response from China’s Foreign Ministry.
Spokesman Zhao Lijian made it clear that China opposes any official agreement between Taiwan and any country with which China has diplomatic relations that might have implications for Chinese sovereignty over the island.