Thursday, December 27, 2007

Taiwan-U.S. Free Trade

When Peru-U.S. Free Trade was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives by a wide margin in early November, the outlook appeared grim for the remaining agreements in the wings--Columbia, Panama and Korea--to find approval soon, as the political climate quickly began to cool towards trade. The Nelson Report in November relayed the news that, "Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton late yesterday let it be known that if and when KORUS, Colombia and Panama FTA's come up for a vote, hers will be 'no'. Whether she ever gets to that point depends, of course, on the House, and today, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that there will be no votes on these three at all this year."

Without Taiwan even on the docket, the prospects for a Taiwan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in the immediately future are admittedly unlikely. Yet Taiwan is still on Congress' trade radar, as was demonstrated earlier this month when Senator Max Baucus of Montana introduced S. Con. Res. 60, a concurrent resolution which, if passed, would nudge the office of the U.S. Trade Representative towards opening extensive trade negotiations with America's eighth-largest export market.

We've listed in the past many of the prime reasons why it is in both countries' interest that a Taiwan-U.S. free trade agreement (TUFTA) become reality sooner rather than later. The economies of Taiwan and the United States are heavily symbiotic, with little overlap in their respective key industries. Although free trade is seen by many as conributing to the percieved evils of globalization, classic talking points against free trade do not apply to the situation of trade between Taiwan and the United States.

S. Con. Res. 60 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is incedentally chaired by Senator Baucus. If you have a Senator on the committee, drop his/her office a line and voice your support for the resolution.