TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on Tuesday (June 29) sent a letter signed by them and 40 other senators calling on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to lay the groundwork for negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Taiwan.
After a hiatus of five years, the U.S. and Taiwan on Wednesday (June 30) resumed talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). In anticipation of the renewed talks, Rubio and Warner were joined by 40 other senators, including John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and James Inhofe (R-OK), in signing a letter to Tai.
In the letter, which Rubio revealed on his website on Wednesday, the senators expressed their approval over the long-stalled TIFA talks being resumed. They noted that the last meeting had been in October 2016, "which was far too long ago" given Taiwan's importance as a trading partner.
The senators then requested that Tai prioritize the talks and "take steps to begin laying the groundwork for negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA), or other preliminary agreement, with Taiwan." The lawmakers pointed out that Taiwan is the U.S.' 10th-largest trading partner and its eighth-largest market for American agricultural goods.
The legislators added that given Taiwan's "high standards of labor rights and environmental protection," they are confident a trade pact with the country would "serve as a model for what a high-standard FTA should look like."
They then emphasized that beyond business, Taiwan has "proven itself to be a true friend to the United States and a model of a vibrant democracy." The senators contrasted Taiwan's rapid shipment of PPE to the U.S. with China's blocking American companies from shipping personal protective equipment to the U.S. earlier in the pandemic.