Monday, February 25, 2008

More on Trade

Courtesy of Taiwan Image.

We assume that, by now, every English-language Taiwan blog out there has the scoop on R.O.C. the Boat when it comes to American Enterprise Institute and Armitage International's much welcome report released last week, by Dan Blumenthal and Randall Shriver. The report is a product of the work of the Taiwan Policy Working Group, which a joint project by the two Washington foreign policy organizations. The report makes many solid recommendations for ways in which the Taiwan-U.S. relationship can be strengthened for the good of their alliance as well as for the health and stability of cross-Strait relations in general. Not surprisingly, trade was part of the recommended agenda:

The United States and Taiwan can strengthen their economic ties to the benefit of both economies. The two economies already share a strong partnership, but as Taiwan's leadership in computer components and next-generation telecommunications technology indicates, there is much room for further growth.
. . . .

A U.S. Taiwan FTA would have bilateral economic and strategic benefits, and it could also provide economic benefits to the region by fostering inter-Asian trade liberalization. U.S. action could have a positive domino effect on other countries, such as Japan, that do not want to see Taiwan excluded from the Asian economic arrangements for both economic and political reasons.

Just a brief excerpt from the good deal that the report had to say about the benefits of trade between Taiwan and the U.S. and the greater benefits a bilateral free trade agreement would bring.

Taiwan's Chief Negotiator, Mr. John Deng from the Office of Trade Negotiations in the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), is ready to talk turkey with the office of the USTR to get an agreement hammered out. Unfortunately, there are three other bilateral FTAs pending in Congress and public sentiment towards free trade is beginning to cool (to use a gentle term). In the following short piece by Chief Negotiator Deng, "Looking Forward to a U.S.-Taiwan FTA," provided by the MOEA's office in Washington, D.C., Mr. Deng concisely lays out the case for such a trade agreement and calls on American voters to voice their support for a Senate Concurrent Resolution designed to nudge the process along:

Looking Toward a U.S.-Taiwan FTA
Mr. John Chen-Chung Deng
Chief Negotiator, Office of Trade Relations
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Republic of China

In late December, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 60, thereby demonstrating continued support in the U.S. Congress for the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Taiwan. Taiwan is grateful to these Senators for their action, and for the longstanding support and friendship of the United States. A U.S.-Taiwan FTA would ensure continued prosperity for Taiwan, and would bring with it many economic benefits for U.S. exporters as well.

Taiwan and U.S. Trade

In recent years, Taiwan has worked with the United States and the World Trade Organization to develop world-class labor standards, environmental safeguards and strong protections for intellectual property rights. Trading with Taiwan means supporting the values of a responsible member of the world community.

Despite a comparatively large level of trade, the U.S. and Taiwan feature different and largely complementary manufacturing bases. For instance, Taiwan produces almost three-quarters of the world’s laptop computers and LCD monitors, as well as four-fifths of the world’s PDAs, often incorporating U.S. technology and design specifications. Taiwan is also a major customer for U.S. exporters and is the largest per capita buyer of several important U.S. farm products including corn, soybeans, meat and wheat. A recent study shows that the FTA would increase U.S.
exports to Taiwan by an estimated $ 6.6 billion annually.

A U.S.-Taiwan FTA, however, would enhance economic opportunities far beyond our
two economies alone. With the strong American business presence in Taiwan, the FTA would encourage U.S. businesses to use Taiwan as a base of operations in Asia, and establish bilateral alliances with Taiwan’s entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities in third markets. Such trends would help to enhance U.S. trade relations with other Asian economies, while also ensuring a strong U.S. economic presence in the region.

Why a U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement?

Competition among Asian economies is fierce. In order to stay competitive, Asian nations are pursuing FTAs with their key trading partners. These FTAs are often sought not only for their economic benefit, but also for their political and security
significance. Taiwan, however, continues to be excluded from these FTAs as a result of China’s intention to isolate Taiwan from the global trade community. With both the U.S. and Taiwan being members of the World Trade Organization, the reality is that no impediment exists to their establishing closer economic relations through a mutually beneficial trade agreement.

The U.S. and Taiwan have a longstanding friendship stretching back over 60 years. As a result of U.S. engagement and influence, Taiwan was able to emerge as a democracy late last century. Democracy, however, requires economic prosperity. An FTA with the United States would ensure that Taiwan continues to remain prosperous, and that its democracy remains healthy. With this in mind, I wish to call on our friends in the U.S. to support the Concurrent Resolution as introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ).


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