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Taiwan President calls NSC meeting over U.S.-China trade dispute

Existing U.S. measures unlikely to affect Taiwanese businesses: NSC

President Tsai Ing-wen.

President Tsai Ing-wen. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) and of top government officials Wednesday morning to discuss the potential impact of a widening trade war between the United States and China, two of the island’s major trading partners.

She heard an NSC address about the possible changes in relations between Taiwan, the U.S. and China as well as about the changing roles of Taiwanese businesses at home and in China, the Central News Agency reported.

Since trade tensions started to surface last March, the NSC set up a special taskforce to closely monitor developments, while six meetings up until Tuesday discussed the potential impact, with the final report being presented to the president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The report concluded that the 25-percent tariffs levied by the Trump Administration on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods was not going to have a major impact on the Taiwanese economy and on Taiwanese investors in China, CNA reported.

A second list of trade measures still being prepared by the U.S. would only affect a limited number of Taiwanese businesses, the NSC concluded.

However, if trade sanctions continued to escalate and Washington imposed 10-percent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports, the situation might change. While escalation might lead to trade wars spiraling out of control, with massive damage to financial markets and rising protectionism, such a situation was nevertheless unlikely to arise, the NSC cautioned.

The president instructed the NSC to monitor developments and to assist with government departments’ adequate response to new measures. Correct and timely explanations needed to be provided to the public in order to allay fears, Tsai said, according to CNA.