On June 12, 2023, members of the United States Congress introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to approve the first trade agreement signed under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. As H.R.4004, the bill is named “United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act.”
The leading Senators from the Senate Finance Committee that introduced the legislation are Chairman Ron Wyden (D) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R). The leading Representatives involved from the House Committee on Ways and Means are Chairman Jason Smith (R), and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D).
In a press release by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, this move “set[s] robust transparency and consultation requirements for any future agreements negotiated under the initiative.”
Given Congress’s constitutional authority over international trade, this approval bill is necessary to ensure that the agreement can enter into force and become a durable, reliable legal framework for both the United States and Taiwan. This legislation will also ensure that this deal and future trade agreements between the United States and Taiwan are subject to strict requirements on consultation with Congress and transparency with the American public.
This bill approves the first agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, which sets rules of the road in five areas of trade: customs administration and trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, services regulation, anti-corruption, and small and medium-sized businesses.
- Provides for congressional approval of the first trade agreement arising from the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade;
- Imposes new congressional consultation and transparency requirements on the Administration with respect to the negotiation of any subsequent agreements arising under the initiative.
“The United States and Taiwan share democratic values, deep economic ties and strong people-to-people connections,” said Senator Wyden. “Those links have formed the basis of constructive trade discussions. My colleagues and I want to ensure these agreements have the support and durability of a bipartisan approval process behind them.”
“This legislation proves that Congress can—and will—lead on trade, and that it cannot be bypassed, nor is there any reason to do so,” said Senator Crapo. “Congress is ready to pursue an ambitious trade agenda on a bipartisan basis. The Administration should recognize it is now time to negotiate real agreements with market access.”
“Taiwan is a friend and critical economic ally of the United States, making it all the more important that any trade agreement with Taiwan be grounded in the Constitutional authority Congress has over U.S. trade relations,“ said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Smith. “While Congress should have been in the driver’s seat from day one in these trade negotiations, it is imperative that we act now in a bipartisan manner to support this early agreement with Taiwan, require that Congress be consulted on and approve any future trade steps with Taiwan, and ensure any such future agreements like this are only established through robust Congressional consultation and a vote of approval.”
“The people of Taiwan have built a robust, thriving democracy, and both the Biden Administration and the Congress have recognized that deepening our economic connection is a top priority,” said Ranking Member Neal. “This bicameral, bipartisan legislation affirms Congress’ constitutional authority on trade and will not only support Taiwan’s democracy, but strengthen our bilateral trade relations.”
The US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement Coalition welcomes this legislation and active support for U.S.-Taiwan Trade.
Selected text of the bill as introduced:
To approve and implement the Agreement between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States regarding Trade between the United States of America and Taiwan, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) As a leading democracy, Taiwan is a key partner of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
(2) The United States and Taiwan share democratic values, deep commercial and economic ties, and strong people-to-people connections. Those links serve as the impetus for expanding engagement by the United States with Taiwan.
(3) Taiwan is the eighth-largest trading partner of the United States and the United States is the second-largest trading partner of Taiwan.
(4) Since 2020, the United States and Taiwan, under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), have held an economic prosperity partnership dialogue to enhance economic and commercial ties between the United States and Taiwan, including with respect to supply chain security and resiliency, investment screening, health, science, and technology, and the digital economy.
(5) On June 1, 2022, the United States and Taiwan launched the United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade to deepen our economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, promote innovation, and support inclusive economic growth for workers and businesses.
(6) On August 17, 2022, the United States and Taiwan announced the negotiating mandate for formal trade negotiations under the United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade and agreed to seek high-standard commitments.
(7) Article I, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution of the United States grants Congress authority over international trade. The President lacks the authority to enter into binding trade agreements absent approval from Congress.
(8) Congressional approval of the United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement will ensure that the agreement, and the trade relationship between the United States and Taiwan more broadly, will be durable. A durable trade agreement will foster sustained economic growth and give workers, consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders assurance that commercial ties between the United States and Taiwan will be long-lasting and reliable.
SEC. 3. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this Act is —
(1) to approve and implement the Agreement between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States regarding Trade between the United States of America and Taiwan, done on June 1, 2023;
(2) to strengthen and develop economic relations between the United States and Taiwan for our mutual benefit;
(3) to lay the foundation for further cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits of the Agreement; and
(4) to establish transparency and consultation requirements with respect to Further Agreements.
SEC. 5. APPROVAL OF AGREEMENT.
Congress approves the Agreement between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States regarding Trade between the United States of America and Taiwan, done on June 1, 2023.
SEC. 7. TRANSPARENCY AND CONSULTATION WITH RESPECT TO FURTHER AGREEMENTS.
(a) Sense Of Congress On Deepening Relationship With Taiwan — It is the sense of Congress that the United States should continue to deepen its relationship with Taiwan. Any Further Agreements should be high-standard, enforceable, and meaningful to both the United States and Taiwan, as well as subject to robust requirements on public transparency and congressional consultation.