| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Taiwan ‘cautiously optimistic’ on resuming U.S. trade talks, official says

A senior official in Taiwan said on Thursday that they are “cautiously optimistic” about resuming halted high level trade talks with the United States this year, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signaled a possible resumption.

The US Biden administration has moved to confirm its robust commitment to the Chinese-claimed, democratically-governed island in the face of pressure from Beijing, including military drills, to try and assert its sovereignty.

Taiwan has previously seeked for a free trade deal with the United States, but trade and investment talks between the two have been halted since the Obama administration.

A senior official at Taiwan’s Economy Ministry told Reuters they hope to resume the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement(TIFA) talks this year.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity and without elaborating.

Blinken said on Monday, that  the government was engaged or will be soon in conversations with Taiwan about some kind of framework deal.

TIFA talks stalled after former President Barack Obama left office in 2016 and his successor Donald Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, focused on trade talks with China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Any such agreement with Taiwan is likely to enrage China.

While Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, many countries are wary of signing trade deals with the tech-powerhouse fearing objections from China, though Taiwan does have free trade deals with Singapore and New Zealand.

  • Reuters