On April 15, 2022, U.S. Senator Robert Portman (R-OH) visited Taiwan as part of a Congressional delegation. At a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Senator Portman said that the U.S. should begin talks with Taiwan on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. Senator Portman said that a BTA would “deepen bilateral economic ties in ways that would be good for both countries economically.” Additionally, he believes that it would “act as a deterrence to any malign activity that China might be considering.”
The senior Congressional delegation trip to Taipei was led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Other members accompanying him on the trip were Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Benjamin Sasse (R-NE), and Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13).
Senator Portman responded to the CNA question:
“Yes. I think Taiwan should be a part of the current [Indo-Pacific] Economic Framework but frankly, I think it’s much more important that we reach out to Taiwan and begin a negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. That would deepen our bilateral economic ties in ways that would be good for both countries, economically, and I think more significantly would be good for our national security in the U.S. It would help us to be able to move forward on a critical geopolitical issue, which is showing our strong support for Taiwan, which should act as a deterrence for any malign activity that China might be considering. So, yes – we should have Taiwan as part of the framework, I think it makes sense. But frankly the framework is not as important to me as having a much more serious trade agreement, a Free Trade Agreement, with Taiwan.“
The US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement Coalition welcomes these comments of support from Senator Portman.
Senator Portman has previously expressed support for an trade agreement with Taiwan, stating, “I am in full support of a US-Taiwan free trade agreement. A robust deal has the potential to create jobs, foster innovation, spur economic growth, and strengthen a crucial partnership in East Asia.” Senator Portman made these comments on his official Twitter account on June 9, 2021.
Senator Portman was also among the 50 U.S. Senators who signed an October, 2020 letter to then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, asking him to begin the formal process of negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement with Taiwan. The US-Taiwan BTA Coalition issued a press release on the letter.