Taiwan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Calls for a U.S.-Taiwan BTA

Port of Kaohsiung

On June 8, 2023, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Chun Lee urged the United States and Taiwan to sign a Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) during a radio interview with personality Clara Chou.

Deputy Minister Lee’s comments come after the signing of the first agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade on June 1, 2023.

According to the Taipei Times, during the interview Deputy Minister Lee said, “signing the agreement was a ‘big breakthrough’ in economic and trade relations of the past two decades, and an important milestone for Taiwan’s overall economic and trade ties.”

The agreement would benefit both sides, he added. Taiwan’s international position and pressure from China make it challenging for the nation to sign trade deals with countries that are not diplomatic allies, he said. The deal with the U.S. has the structure of a typical free-trade agreement, and can be expanded in scope and content, Lee said. The agreement would hopefully be an example for other countries or trade blocs to follow in signing similar deals with Taiwan, he said. The U.S. is Taiwan’s second-largest export market, and economic and trade ties have grown closer in the past few years, he said.

Asked whether the U.S. might replace China as Taiwan’s top export market, Lee said that “it definitely would.” Taiwan and the US are able to work smoothly together because their interests align, he said. Taiwanese businesses are following a global trend of reconsidering dependence on China and “derisking” by moving key operations out of the nation, Lee said. The next step in ties with Washington would be to negotiate an agreement to eliminate double taxation, which would draw more firms to invest in the U.S., he added.

A free-trade agreement with Taiwan would be a strategic tool demonstrating the U.S.’ support of the nation, a view backed by experts in the U.S., he said. The benefits of the initial agreement might not be obvious in the short term and would be difficult to quantify, he added. However, three committees are to be established to discuss trade facilitation, small and medium-sized enterprises, and good regulatory practices, Lee said. The discussions would be broader and more innovative than under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which focused on resolving trade obstacles, he said.

Source: Experts Urge U.S. to Sign trade Deal with Taiwan. Taipei Times. June 9, 2023.

Deputy Minister Roy Chun Lee assumed his position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 2023. He previously served as Commissioner at International Trade Commission.

The US-Taiwan BTA Coalition welcomes this support for a bilateral trade agreement from Taiwan’s Deputy Minister Lee.

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