WASHINGTON – New U.S. trade negotiations with Taiwan could move more quickly than broader talks with 12 Indo–Pacific countries given strong interest in Taipei and Washington in deepening economic ties, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi said on Thursday.
There are parallels between the newly launched Indo–Pacific Economic Framework talks and the Taiwan talks, Ms. Bianchi told Reuters in an interview, but the latter initiative is aimed at increasing links with Taiwan on specific economic issues.
“I think we are eager to get going with Taiwan and to scope out our negotiating mandate there and … a range of issues from small-medium enterprises to digital trade to labor and we look forward to getting going as quickly as possible,” Ms. Bianchi said.
Asked if the Taiwan initiative could bear fruit sooner then the Indo–Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) talks, she said: “Potentially yes, it could.”
The Chinese-claimed island was excluded from the 14-country IPEF initiative launched last week by President Joe Biden. However, USTR announced separate, bilateral trade talks with Taiwan on Wednesday.
IPEF, which seeks to return an economic pillar to U.S. engagement in the region, will include Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and other countries in the region, but not China.
Ms. Bianchi said IPEF would also get started right away, with plans for discussions, including ministerial-level meetings in coming months to organize the topics for the talks and to begin proposing texts for an agreement by the end of the summer.
The IPEF talks will allow member countries to choose among the key “pillars” in which they will participate, including digital trade rules, supply chain resiliency and trade facilitation, infrastructure development and strong labor rights and environmental standards.
But participation in all pillars is not required, and initial meetings will focus on…
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