The first agreement in the U. S. - Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade will set the stage for an even bigger deal - "a robust and high standard trade agreement'', U. S. Trade Rep Katherine Tai said.
The initiative announced on Thursday will, amongst other things, reduce red tape at customs, and reduce waiting time for U. S. companies bringing products into Taiwan. The agreement also commits both the U. S. A. and Taiwan to take measures to combat corruption and bribery, and to encourage more small and medium-sized business trade.
The agreement does NOT require the approval of the U. S. Congress. Taiwan, a 23-million-strong island that separated from China in 1949 when communists seized the mainland, has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Washington. It is now a prosperous democracy. Beijing has demanded the reunification of Taiwan for years, considering it a renegade province.
In recent years, the relationship between the United States of America and China has deteriorated. The United States accuses China's predatory economic practices and has criticized Beijing for its crackdown on dissent, particularly in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and its bullying of neighboring countries, including Taiwan.
"Beijing will likely complain about this announcement but its words won't be heard in Washington, as negotiations with Taiwan continue," said Wendy Cutler. She is vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former U. S. negotiator.
Taiwan is the leading producer of computer chips in the world. Last year, the United States imported $105 billion in goods and services from Taiwan. This made it the 10th largest source of U. S. exports. The United States exported nearly $55 billion worth of goods and services to Taiwan, making it the 15th largest foreign market for America.
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