DC think tanks urge Trump admin to pursue US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement

The Project 2019 Institute and American Enterprise Institute call FTA with Taiwan a 'golden opportunity'

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Screengrab from Project 2049 Institute

Screengrab from Project 2049 Institute

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Two D.C. area think tanks are urging the Trump administration to move forward with negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan.

On Feb. 14, the Project 2049 Institute published a new report by Dan Blumenthal and Mike Mazza entitled “A Golden Opportunity for a U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement,” with the American Enterprise Institute publishing the same report a day later.

The preface declares that “Taiwan should be considered a crucial partner in the Trump administration’s strategy” of establishing a free and open Indo-Pacific, as the world moves into a new informational age.

Urging more economic openness and closer cooperation, the authors state that a Taiwan Free Trade Agreement would likewise bolster the U.S.’ national security strategy.

While the U.S. is also currently engaged in FTA negotiations with Japan and the Philippines, the current report suggests that concluding a deal with Taiwan would be a much smoother and less complicated process, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

The Project 2049 Institute report notes that Taiwan is already a free and open society that demonstrates good governance, and one that honors and protects individual rights. Taiwan is also already one of the U.S.' top trading partners for agricultural and machine products.

An FTA with Taiwan would also work towards restoring a crucial balance in the region, which is being upended by the coercive and predatory actions of Beijing. With an FTA deal, Taiwan could have a much more influential role as a leader in the region, and the FTA would also demonstrate to the ASEAN nations the value that the U.S. places on economic openness, efficient regulatory bodies, and good governance.

However, the report does note that Taiwan will likely have to address, and possibly make concessions, in some areas of agriculture (beef and pork imports have been a major obstacle for previous negotiations), and increase regulatory oversight for intellectual property and copyright violations.

Lastly, domestic barriers in banking and private equity also need to be addressed, according to the report.

Assuming these relatively minor obstacles can be overcome, an FTA with Taiwan as the “marquee trade deal” of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy would serve to benefit Taiwan, the region, and U.S. interests. In conclusion the report states the following.

“It Behooves Washington and Taipei… to ensure that Taiwan is more than a passive inspiration…The two should seek to not only model ideal policies, but to set standards that others must meet in order to flourish. A bilateral FTA would do so. Not only would it have enormous signaling value vis-à-vis Beijing, and deepen U.S.-Taiwan economic ties in such a way as to make Taiwan’s de facto independence materially more important to the United States, but it would also serve as a concrete conceptualization of America’s economic vision for the region.”

The full report can be read on the Project 2049 Institute’s website.