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Taiwan seeking FTA talks with major trade partners: president

Taiwan seeking FTA talks with major trade partners: president

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday that Taiwan is now more eager to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with its major trading partners. "When we are ready to become more liberalized in our trade policy, certainly we want to join the regional economic integration in this part of the world," Ma said at a gala dinner organized by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei. Ma said that, before he took office in 2008, Taiwan for a long time did not have the chance to enter into FTAs with its major trading partners, such as China, the United States and Japan. Although Taiwan has concluded FTAs with five Central American countries, the total trade between Taiwan and these five countries accounts for less than 1 percent of Taiwan's overall trade, Ma said. "So we are very eager to start such negotiations with our major trading partners," the president noted. One of the steps that the government has taken to promote trade talks is shown in its improving trade and economic relations with the U.S. after Taiwan lifted its ban on imports of the American beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, Ma said. Because of the success in solving that problem, Taiwan has resumed its trade talks with the U.S. under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), he said. "With that, we are able to take a different approach to directly concluding a free trade agreement," Ma said. "We call it 'building blocks' -- one agreement at a time, so we could weigh the importance and prioritize the order." Since last year, Taiwan has also begun to negotiate with Singapore and New Zealand on economic cooperation agreements, Ma said. He hopes the government can also wrap up the talks before the end of the year. Also at the gala dinner was Christopher Marut, director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, who laid out three areas key to prosperity in the Asia Pacific region: trade integration, energy security and regional stability. Expanding trade engagements through comprehensive, bilateral and multilateral framework agreements works best when the parties embrace open markets and align their regulatory systems with international standards, he said. He added that the U.S. is excited about the recent resumption of TIFA talks, which provides a new momentum in the bilateral economic relationship. Meanwhile, he said robust growth in the Asia Pacific is driving demand for energy, adding that expanding clean energy production is part of the solution. "Many initiatives for just that are right here in Taiwan," he said. Equally important is that economic growth and prosperity are linked to peace, security and stability in the region, Marut added. Noting that the U.S. is a Pacific nation, Marut said he expects the U.S. and its partners in the Asia Pacific will continue to forge stronger political, strategic, economic and people-to-people relationships in the coming years. (Jeffrey Wu and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-04-13 15:35 GMT+08:00