TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) stated on Thursday, Sept. 13 that a delegation from the United States Trade Representative Office (USTR) was in Taiwan to discuss issues of mutual concern between Taiwan and the United States.
AIT’s spokesperson Amanda Mansour said that the USTR delegation of Washington-based staff is led by Terrence J. McCartin, the assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs.
The delegation also includes representatives from the State Department, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture according to reports from UDN.
The statement from AIT also said the delegation was in Taiwan to discuss bilateral trade, and investment issues, and that the business of the delegation did not include any plans to discuss any potential free trade agreement.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12 Taiwan’s Foreign Minister called urged the United States government to consider a free trade agreement with Taiwan. “I certainly see both the strategic and economic sense for it [FTA] in our two countries,” Wu was quoted as saying.
The sudden announcement that a USTR delegation was in Taiwan the following day has spurred speculation that U.S. and Taiwan governments may be in talks for planning another TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) conference, which many would see as a first step towards a free trade agreement.
McMartin reportedly met with Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) on the Thursday afternoon.
Reports speculate that the meeting will focus on issues related to livestock, and agriculture, as well as U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, from which Taiwan would like to negotiate for an exemption.
Sources in Washington have reportedly said this is a regular visit, and not related to any developments involving TIFA.