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Taiwan sees US trade initiative as vital for defense of its democracy

Top trade negotiator sees bilateral initiative as model for regional pact

Minister without Portfolio John Deng. 

Minister without Portfolio John Deng.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Talks in the context of the United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade will help reduce Taiwan’s reliance on the Chinese economy and protect its democracy, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator told Politico in an interview.

Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said in an interview published Monday (July 4) that if Taiwan’s economy was not strong enough, it could only increase its dependence on China. The trade pact with the U.S. would help the country maintain its economy and its democracy against the threat from Beijing, according to the Cabinet official.

While the initiative was unlikely to be the full-fledged free trade agreement (FTA) Taiwan sought, it will provide a solid legal infrastructure and result in a concrete agreement which both countries could sign, the report said. Deng said he hoped negotiations for the pact will be completed by late 2023, when the U.S. will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Even though Taiwan had not been invited to join the U.S.-backed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the Initiative on 21st-Century Trade could reach quicker agreements and function as a model for the regional trade alliance, Deng said.