Timing for Taiwan-US TIFA talks undecided: official
Taiwan and the United States are still discussing when to hold the next round of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a Taiwanese foreign affairs official said Tuesday.
“We’re still discussing it with the U.S.,” said Kelly Hsieh, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of North American Affairs, at a regular news briefing.
Hsieh was responding to questions on the timing of the major trade talks between Taiwan and the U.S., which have been held in March or April the past two years.
Economic Affairs Minister John Deng said earlier this month that it was unlikely the next round of TIFA talks would be held in April, despite having said in February during a visit to the U.S., that the talks would take place this month.
Deng said the delay was because the U.S. has focused its trade negotiation efforts on issues such as finishing negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Part- nership (TPP) trade bloc, which is led by the U.S.
There were also suspicions that the delay might be related to Taiwan’s resistance to expanding imports of U.S. beef and pork, but Hsieh did not say Tuesday whether they factored into the delay, saying only that the government has had a consistent stance on the issue.
He said Taiwan will continue its ban on imports of internal cow organs from the U.S. but will move to open its doors to six other kinds of beef parts from the U.S. as long as their safety is ensured.
Taiwan will also maintain its ban on imports of U.S. pork that contains traces of ractopamine, a veterinary leanness-enhancing drug banned in the country, Hsieh said.
Taiwan also previously prohibited imported beef containing ractopamine, but it lifted the ban in July 2012, setting the stage for the resumption of TIFA talks in March 2013 after a six-year suspension caused largely by the dispute over beef imports from the U.S.
The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues.
The latest round of TIFA talks were held in Washington in April 2014.
Asked about a recent report in which U.S. officials suggested that Taiwan address the beef and pork issues if it wanted to speed up the process of joining the TPP, Hsieh said Taiwan understands the U.S. stance.
Both sides will continue to negotiate, he said, adding that bilateral communications under the TIFA are smooth.