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U.S. Wants More Progress with Taiwan on IPR, Investment, Agriculture

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Talks between the U.S. and Taiwan last weekend showcased a trade relationship that is steadily improving after several years of tension. The progress is generally attributed to Taiwan’s efforts to resolve longstanding trade irritants with Washington, including through domestic reforms, in order to improve its prospects for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other regional economic integration initiatives.

The eighth meeting of the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council included discussions on a range of agricultural trade issues, and a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the two sides “agreed on the importance of making meaningful progress on these issues in order to deepen their overall trade ties.” Press sources indicated that among these issues is Taiwan’s ban on imports of U.S. pork containing the additive ractopamine. Taiwan lifted a similar ban on U.S. beef in 2012, a step that prompted the U.S. to resume TIFA talks after a five-year hiatus. The U.S. is continuing to push Taiwan to ease the pork ban as well, but Taiwanese officials reportedly said they have no intention of doing so.

According to USTR, the two sides agreed to continue fully utilizing their working groups on investment and technical barriers to trade and to build on recent positive steps taken by Taiwan to clarify investment criteria, lift data localization requirements in the financial sector, and revise standards and multi-pack labeling requirements. The U.S. welcomed steps Taiwan took in 2013 to improve trade secrets protection and address pharmaceutical issues, and Taiwanese authorities outlined plans to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights. Both sides recognized the need for further engagement over the next year on IPR protection in areas such as online piracy, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Taiwan is the United States’ 12th-largest trading partner and 16th largest export market for U.S. goods. U.S. goods exports to Taiwan totaled $25.6 billion in 2013, up 5.3% from 2012, while imports fell 2.4% to $37.9 billion.

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