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Tsai talks trade in meeting with Brookings’ group

2019-06-14Taipei Times  English News
President Tsai Ing-wen, right, shakes hands with former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush yesterday at the Presidential Office in Taipei. / Photo courtesy of CNA
President Tsai Ing-wen, right, shakes hands with former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush yesterday at the Presidential Office in Taipei. / Photo courtesy of CNA

Taiwan would do its utmost to negotiate free-trade agreements (FTAs) with the US and Japan as well as join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), President Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday as she met a delegation from the Brookings Institution.

In her second meeting this week with members of a Washington-based think tank, following her talks with Project 2049 Institute chairman Richard Armitage and others on Wednesday, Tsai told the Brookings group that she hoped they would offer more advice on Taiwan-related issues.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary-General James Lee and National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee joined Tsai for the meeting in the Presidential Office, as they did on Wednesday with Project 2049 Institute session.

Richard Bush — a former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman who is now a senior fellow at Brookings — has visited Taiwan every year since she took office, while Japanese academic Yasuhiro Matsuda led another delegation she met with last year, Tsai said.

Bush has been advocating for closer economic ties between Taiwan and the US, while her administration would also do its best to promote signing free-trade deals with the US and Japan and join the CPTPP, she said.

Taiwan’s ties with the US and Japan are an important part and stabilizing force in the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy, Tsai said, noting that in March Japan became part of the Taiwan-US Global Cooperation and Training Framework established in 2015.

Many policy experts have been urging renewed efforts to push for free-trade deals with the US, including former AIT directors Stephen Young and William Stanton, but whether Taiwan should allow the importation of certain US pork and beef products remains a thorny issue.

Taiwan is interested in joining the Japan-led CPTPP, which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Peru, Chile and Malaysia, and which entered into force on Dec. 30 last year.

The CPTTP replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which crumbled after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it in 2017.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono in December said that Taiwan’s ban on Japanese food products from five prefectures remains an obstacle of Taiwan’s bid to join the CPTPP.