The general view of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), or the de facto US embassy, in Taipei, Taiwan, 04 November 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/DAVID CHANG

Taiwan, US sign ambitious trade agreement much to China’s chagrin

Beijing, June 2 (EFE).- The United States and Taiwan signed an ambitious trade deal in Washington on Thursday, drawing a sharp reaction from China.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning gestures during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, 06 April 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/WU HAO

The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of the self-governing island and the American Institute in Taiwan, considered the de facto embassy of the US in Taipei, the Office of Trade Negotiations of Taiwan said in a statement.

Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng, present at the event, described the signing of the pact as “a milestone” in US-Taiwan trade and economic relations, the statement said.

The Office added that the new agreements “will enhance the ability of Taiwan’s industries, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to participate in international economic and trade investment activities.”

Deng also expressed his hope “to continue to expand and deepen Taiwan-US economic and trade cooperation and mutually beneficial relations.”

In a statement, US Trade Representative (USTR) spokesperson Sam Michel said that the deal was “intended to strengthen and deepen the economic and trade relationship” both countries.

“We thank our Taiwan partners for helping us reach this important milestone and look forward to upcoming negotiations on additional trade areas set forth in the initiative’s negotiating mandate,” he added.

“The negotiated text on customs administration and trade facilitation will streamline border procedures and reduce red tape, making it easier, faster, and cheaper for American businesses to bring their products to Taiwan and Taiwanese customers,” USTR said.

It is the first agreement under the US-Taiwan Trade Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which includes the regulations and procedures with which the two countries intend to boost trade ties.

The Office of Trade Negotiations of Taiwan said that the first batch of agreements signed on Thursday included five topics, with another seven to be “negotiated soon.”

These include labor, environment, agriculture, digital trade, standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market policies and practices.

The signing of the pact drew a sharp reaction from China.

“Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities’ attempt to solicit US support for ‘Taiwan independence’ in the name of economic and trade cooperation is just futile,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

“The US should not send wrong signals to separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ in the name of economy and trade,” Mao added.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over the self-ruled island since Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the war against the communist army.

The island, with whom the US does not maintain official relations, is one of the main reasons for conflict between Beijing and Washington, mainly because the US is the main supplier of arms to Taiwan and would be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with the Asian giant. EFE