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Taiwan And USA to hold formal talks to Advance trade ties During China Tensions.

Taiwan And USA to hold formal talks to Advance trade ties During China Tensions.

The United States and Taiwan agreed to start trade talks under a new initiative, saying they wanted to reach agreements with “economically meaningful outcomes”, in another sign of stepped up US support for the island.

Washington and Taipei unveiled the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade in June, just days after the Biden administration excluded the Chinese-claimed island from its Asia-focused economic plan designed to counter China’s growing influence.

The office of the US Trade Representative said on Wednesday the two sides had “reached consensus on the negotiating mandate” and it was expected that the first round of talks will take place early this autumn.

We plan to pursue an ambitious schedule for achieving high-standard commitments and meaningful outcomes covering the eleven trade areas in the negotiating mandate that will help build a fairer, more prosperous and resilient 21st-century economy,” deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi said in a statement.

The negotiating mandate released along with the announcement said the United States and Taiwan have set a robust agenda for talks on issues like trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, and removing discriminatory barriers to trade.

It said the start of the formal talks would be for the purpose of reaching agreements with “high standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes”.

It did not mention the possibility of a broad free trade deal, which is something Taiwan has been pressing for.

The announcement comes amid high tensions in the region, with China continuing military exercises targeting Taiwan. Washington, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, has been keen to bolster support for Taiwan, especially as it faces stepped up political pressure from China to accept its sovereignty claims.

Earlier this month China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted live-fire drills surrounding the island, including missile tests, in purported response to a visit by US House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Since the conclusion of the drills, the PLA has maintained near-daily crossings over the median line unofficially demarcating China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait. Beijing has also announced sanctions against senior Taiwanese officials, and import bans and other economic restrictions on Taiwanese businesses.

In a press call on Thursday morning, the US assistant secretary of state for east Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, said the trade talks provided “an opportunity to assist Taiwan in building its resilience, and ensuring … supply chains”.

Taiwan produces most of the world’s highest-tech semiconductors, used in electronics from toys and phones to cars. Citing the product as an example, Kritenbrink said Taiwan had an “increasingly central role in the global economy” and peace and stability across the strait was “crucial”.

Beijing has recently begun to claim the strait as its own sovereign waters, and warned the US not to conduct its freedom of navigation transits through the passage. On Tuesday China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, said such operations would be viewed by Beijing as “escalatory” and supportive of what Beijing terms a “separatist” movement in Taiwan.

Kritenbrink said the freedom of navigation trips were routine, longstanding, and would continue.

“The US will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere that international law allows,” he said.

“It would be deeply destabilising and irresponsible of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) if it were to try and take steps designed to control or restrict the ability of the US or others to transit the strait or … to threaten the ability of shipping and commerce to transit the strait.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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