Start trade talks with Taiwan, now

Date: August 31, 2020
By: Derek Scissors

On Friday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen made an overture for trade negotiations

Derek Scissors
Resident Scholar

by unilaterally easing import restrictions on American beef and pork. This was overdue and can’t by itself erase Taiwan’s record in trade talks. But it is a welcome chance to move toward a free trade agreement (FTA) or its equivalent, which would help the US economically and strategically. Failing to move forward would be a bad mistake.

In fact, the first step toward a quasi-FTA with Taiwan has already been taken — the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) deal. President Trump is loudly skeptical of open trade, yet USMCA was not only successfully negotiated, it passed Congress on a bipartisan basis. This important political accomplishment offers the template for a deal with Taiwan (and others).

An FTA with Taiwan can even be superior to the USMCA, with labor and environmental standards the obvious example. Compared to Mexico, Taiwan faces almost no criticism of its practices in these areas. Negotiation and implementation of the relevant chapters will be much easier than in the USMCA.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Brent Christensen, head of the American Institute in Taiwan, leave after doing a joint press event in Taipei, Taiwan, August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Two internal American issues should also be easier to resolve. The debate over how much protection intellectual property (IP) should receive here spills into our trade negotiations. Taiwan’s protection of IP in general and American IP in particular has greatly improved. Moreover, as a rich economy, there is little prospect of IP rights in Taiwan leading to prices that deny access to vital products.    [FULL  STORY]

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