U.S. opens economic front in campaign to expand ties with Taiwan

Bloomberg News Network
Date: Sep 1, 2020
By: Chris Horton and Samson Ellis

People shop at food stalls at the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, on Thursday, July 30, 2020. As the world braces for the worst economic contraction since since World War II, Taiwan appears poised to get away lightly. Economists expect the export-dependent island to show a second-quarter performance that is merely stagnant, as opposed to the deep recessions seen elsewhere, and a brighter outlook for the rest of the year. , Bloomberg

The U.S.’s decision to launch economic talks with Taiwan opened a new front in Taipei’s effort to push back against increased pressure from Beijing.

The Economic and Commercial Dialogue announced by Washington and Taipei this week marks a breakthrough in Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s four-year quest for trade talks with the U.S. The Trump administration announced the framework days after Tsai dropped restrictions on the American pork products that Washington viewed as a barrier to broader negotiations.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the Washington-based U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, calling the decision “bigger than the F-16 sale” last year. “There’s very little chance this will go unnoticed, primarily because it’ll rightly be seen as a play for a bilateral trade agreement commitment from the Trump administration,” Hammond-Chambers said.

The trade talks add a new dimension to the expanding cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S., as Donald Trump’s administration highlights its efforts to challenge China in the president’s re-election campaign. So far, the U.S.’s outreach has focused on diplomacy, such as Health Secretary Alex Azar’s landmark visit to Taipei last month, and defense ties, including the administration’s decision to approve the first fighter jet sale to Taiwan in almost three decades.

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