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US Undersecretary of State Krach likely to visit Taiwan for trade talks

High-level visit by State Department's No. 3 could happen by late September

Undersecretary of State Keith Krach (left) holding talks in South Korea in 2019 

Undersecretary of State Keith Krach (left) holding talks in South Korea in 2019  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — There was a possibility that United States Undersecretary of State Keith Krach might travel to Taiwan by the end of September to hold trade talks with the nation's government, the Liberty Times reported Wednesday (Sept. 2).

The report follows Taiwan’s decision to end a ban on the import of U.S. pork containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Krach, who is responsible for economic growth, energy, and the environment, would be the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan since the two countries severed official diplomatic relations in 1979.

Krach’s trip would form part of a new U.S.-Taiwan Economic and Commercial Dialogue discussed during a videoconference Aug. 31 between Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花), Taiwan’s representative in Washington Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), and Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stillwell.

Krach, described as the State Department’s “Third Hand” by the Liberty Times, has expressed interest to lead the round of talks in Taiwan personally, the paper reported. Preparatory talks to organize the discussions are being handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and by the Department of State and are advancing rapidly, making it possible for Krach to visit in late September, according to the Liberty Times.

If he travels to the island, topics for his meetings will likely range from changes in the supply chain to 5G and semiconductors, but Wang said Taiwan will not set any preconditions.

The country wants to conclude a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S., but there was no timetable as some subjects needed more discussion than others, according to the economics minister.

There has been no announcement of a visit or proposed timeline by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S. office in Taipei.