The new initiative – the US-Taiwan 21st Century Trade Initiative – marks the official launch of the Taiwan-US trade negotiations. Taiwan’s trade representative, John Deng, told a news conference on Wednesday that it was a precursor to the signing of a free trade agreement.
The initiative covers 11 focus areas, including “trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, support for SMEs, digital trade, labor rights, environment, standards, state-owned enterprises and non-market practices and policies,” Deng said.
A key goal is to “develop an ambitious negotiating roadmap to reach an agreement with a high standard of commitment and an economically meaningful outcome,” the USTR said in a statement.
Deng Xiaoping hailed the initiative as a “historic breakthrough” for Taiwan, as it opened up space for more economic and trade cooperation with the United States. He added that it includes important elements of a regional trade agreement, which could lead to the swift signing of a “highly anticipated” bilateral trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States.
Deng added that the launch of the initiative will go hand in hand with Taiwan’s continued efforts to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Prosperity Framework.
Deng Xiaoping will travel to Washington, D.C., at the end of June for the first meeting under the initiative.
In a call with reporters, an administration official said through the initiative, “We intend to explore how to deepen bilateral economic and trade relations and bring concrete results to our people.”
“In the days and weeks ahead, we will move quickly to develop a roadmap for possible negotiations, followed by an in-person meeting next month in Washington, D.C.,” the official said. “Key areas of our negotiations include trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agriculture, anti-corruption, supporting our small and medium-sized businesses, digital trade outcomes, labor rights, the environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market practices and policies.”
The talks came after Biden unveiled his long-awaited economic plan for Asia — the Indo-Pacific Prosperity Economic Framework (IPEF) — which includes 13 partner countries, in a speech in Tokyo. But it does not include Taiwan, an open question as Biden prepares a plan to create an economic sphere to counter China’s growing influence in the region. On Tuesday, officials appeared open to eventual inclusion of Taiwan in the IPEF — even if a similar framework was developed bilaterally.
“We are committed to finding ways to deepen trade and investment with Taiwan, which is why we have created this initiative,” a senior official said. “We think this initiative will allow us to focus more on our partnership with Taiwan and make it more Well aligned to the unique character of the dialogue and our trade relationship.”
The official said that while Taiwan was not included in the IPEF’s “initial launch,” “in the future we intend to take a flexible and adaptable way to participate in the IPEF.”
“There is… time in the process,” the official added.
The deal does not require congressional approval because there are “no market access requirements” in it, officials said. Still, one official wanted to “emphasize that we’re going to have a lot of engagement with Congress and other stakeholders.”
“Obviously there’s a broader interest in Taiwan relations and the nature of what we’re doing here,” the official added. “Obviously there’s a broader conversation with Congress on these issues, and we’re going to move forward. .”
This story and its title have been updated with additional coverage.
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.