Se­nior US diplo­mat vis­its Tai­wan, meets Pres­i­dent Ma


Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou re­ceived U.S. As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Af­fairs Charles Rivkin at the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice on Mon­day, mak­ing him the high­est- level serv­ing Amer­i­can of­fi­cial to visit Tai­wan in re­cent years in a sign of im­proved re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

Rivkin strongly af­firmed cur­rent U.S.-Tai­wan re­la­tions, call­ing Tai­wan an im­por­tant ally, while em­pha­siz­ing that both coun­tries are key trad­ing part­ners of one an­other.

In their morn­ing meet­ing in the cap­i­tal, Ma and Rivkin dis­cussed a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing crossstrait re­la­tions, where Rivkin ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion on be­half of the U.S. for Tai­wan’s role in the marked im­prove­ment of re­la­tions with China. He also ex­pressed con­tin­ued sup­port for Tai­wan’s ef­forts to en­gage China, which have re­duced ten­sion in the re­gion to the ben­e­fit of the U.S.

The bulk of the dis­cus­sion, how­ever, was de­voted to key eco­nomic agree­ments that Tai­wan is elic­it­ing sup­port for, in­clud­ing membership of the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank (AIIB) led by China, and the U. S.- led Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP). Rivkin re­it­er­ated that the U.S. is not op­posed to Tai­wan join­ing the AIIB.

A num­ber of bi­lat­eral agree­ments be­tween Tai­wan and the U.S., in­clud­ing the Trade and In­vest­ment Frame­work Agree­ment (TIFA), Se­lect USA and the Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Agree­ment (BIA) were also dis­cussed. Tai­wan is cur­rently the 10th largest trad­ing part­ner of the U.S., with bi­lat­eral trade amount­ing to US$67.4 bil­lion in 2014, sur­pass­ing U.S trade with Saudi Ara­bia and In­dia. The 12 cur­rent mem­bers of the TPP com­prise 35 per­cent of Tai­wan’s to­tal trade.

Ma voiced his wish that U.S.Tai­wan ties could take the next step for­ward, with the re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions over TIFA, which serves as a step­ping stone for a pos­si­ble free trade agree­ment be­tween both sides. He also re­marked that Tai­wan was tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps in lib­er­al­iza­tion and dereg­u­lat­ing its econ­omy in or­der to meet the high stan­dards of TPP membership.

Rivkin is the first U.S. am­bas­sador and for­mer CEO to lead the Bureau of Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Af­fairs at the U.S. State Depart­ment since 2012, while he also served as the U.S. am­bas­sador to France from 2009 to 2013. The Bureau is charged with man­ag­ing trade ne­go­ti­a­tions, in­vest­ment treaties, eco­nomic sanc­tions, in­ter­na­tional fi­nance, devel­op­ment-re­lated is­sues and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights pro­tec­tion, among other is­sues.

He is slated to de­liver re­marks at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the COM­PU­TEX Taipei trade show and will speak dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Fu­ture City Work­shop at the Tai­wan Air Force In­no­va­tion Base in Taipei to­day.

Both sides also signed the “Global Co­op­er­a­tion Train­ing Frame­work” (GCTF) Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) yes­ter­day to in­crease bi­lat­eral ef­forts in eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to an Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan (AIT) press re­lease, the GCTF rep­re­sents: “two like-minded part­ners work­ing to cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties to demon­strate the mean­ing of global cit­i­zen­ship.” The bi­lat­eral agree­ment was the first of its kind to be signed in Tai­wan.


Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou, right, shakes hand with U.S. As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Af­fairs Charles Rivkin at the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice in Taipei, yes­ter­day.

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