TIFA talks with US to resume in March: Taiwan

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States will resume in Taipei in late March by the latest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
Last year’s decision by Taiwan to allow the import of beef containing residues of the leanness drug ractopamine was generally seen as a precondition for the resumption of the talks, which the US left in 2007 over dissatisfaction with the beef ban. The agreement was originally signed in Washington, D.C., in 1994.
The Taipei round of talks will be chaired by Deputy US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and by Economics Vice Minister Cho Shih-chao, MOFA said.
The TIFA talks will continue to strengthen and deepen Taiwan-US economic and trade relations, the ministry said in a statement. The details of the meetings were still under preparation with the aim to make them as effective as possible, according to MOFA.
Taiwan’s representative to Washington, King Pu-tsung, said the holding of the seventh round of TIFA talks was a significant step forward on the road toward deepening bilateral trade relations and would be welcomed by everybody concerned about the key relationship. King expressed hope that successful talks would result in closer cooperation and concrete achievements.
MOFA explicitly mentioned last July’s passage by the Legislative Yuan of the new ractopamine rules and last September’s publication by the Executive Yuan of maximum content levels for the lean-meat drug.
In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez visited Taiwan in August, while former Vice President Lien Chan discussed trade with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at the September APEC summit in Vladivostok. Later that month, she sent US APEC expert Atul Keshap to Taipei to take trade talks to a higher level, according to MOFA.
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez exchanged views with trade officials and business leaders during a visit in late October after a delegation from the US Trade Representative also spent some time in Taiwan.
Officials emphasized that the US was Taiwan’s third major trading partner, accounting for 9.9 percent of the country’s foreign trade, which amounted to US$51.8 billion (NT$1.53 trillion) over the period January-November 2012.
The US was the biggest foreign investor in Taiwan, responsible for 18.7 percent of all foreign investment for a total value of US$21.9 billion (NT$649 billion).