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U.S.-Taiwan TIFA talks showing 'good progress': U.S. official

U.S.-Taiwan TIFA talks showing 'good progress': U.S. official

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks between the United States and Taiwan are showing good progress, but there is still a lot of work ahead, a visiting U.S. trade official said Thursday in Taipei. The two sides still need to tackle issues such as intellectual property rights, pharmaceuticals and medical products, said Atul Keshap, coordinator of economic policy at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at a conference organized by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei.
Keshap, who is also the U.S. representative for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, suggested that governments on both sides "focus on TIFA and really get into a good outcome on TIFA," which he said would "set the stage for many other possibilities." "We're showing good progress and momentum," he said. "We are going to have further talks over the coming year with Taiwan." The U.S. trade official made the remarks at the 2013 Spring Conference of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, being hosted by AmCham Taipei for the first time in 20 years. Taipei has previously hosted the annual conference in 1974, 1980 and 1993. The two-day program, called "A 2020 Vision for U.S.-Asia Partnership," will cover such issues as green energy, the impact of free trade agreements and regional trade agreements, the realignment of regional supply chains and the protection of innovation and creativity. Andrea Wu, president of AmCham Taipei, described TIFA as the framework for the "continuing relationship" between the U.S. and Taiwan that has existed since the deal was signed in 1994, despite a years-long hiatus in the talks over various controversies. Following a resumption of the long-stalled TIFA talks, which resumed March 10 in Taipei, the two countries are expected to discuss more details in terms of certain business sectors in negotiations among various working groups, she told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. On the topics that were covered in the latest round of the TIFA talks, Wu said she had no information about them because AmCham Taipei did not take part in the meeting. However, AmCham Taipei members have submitted suggestions about the medical industry and intellectual property issues, which were also included in the chamber's 2012 White Paper to Taiwan's government, Wu noted. The TIFA talks came at a time when the U.S. is seen to be pushing for Taiwan to lift a ban on imports of U.S. pork containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. However, Taiwan's government has reaffirmed its position on keeping the ban in place. The TIFA was signed as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but talks had been suspended since 2007, largely due to the controversy over U.S. beef imports. In early 2012 the U.S. ratcheted up pressure on Taiwan to lift its ban on ractopamine in beef. The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou relented on the ban in the middle of that year, paving the way for the resumption of the talks. (By Christie Chen and Jeffrey Wu)