US, Taiwan to Sign New Trade Deal as China Tensions Rise

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The US and Taiwan are set to sign the first deal under a new trade talks framework on Thursday, boosting ties between both countries at a time of heightened tensions with China, which has denounced the trade talks as it does with all forms of high-level engagement between Washington and Taipei.

The United States and Taiwan are set to sign a new trade deal on Thursday, both governments said, boosting ties between the two at a time of heightened tensions with China over the democratically-governed island.

It will be the first agreement under a new trade talks framework between Washington and Taipei called the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which began last August after the US excluded Taiwan from its larger pan-Asian trade initiative, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations said in a brief statement that the agreement will be signed in Washington on Thursday morning US time.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) said Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi is expected to be at the event.

The framework aims to strengthen economic ties between Washington and Taipei and open Taiwan to more US exports.

Last month, both countries reached an agreement on the first part of their trade initiative, covering customs and border procedures, regulatory practices, and small businesses.

After the initial agreement is signed, negotiations will start on other, more complicated trade areas including agriculture, digital trade, labour and environmental standards, state-owned enterprises, and non-market policies and practices, the USTR has previously said.

The pact is not expected to alter goods tariffs, but proponents say it will strengthen economic bonds between Washington and Taipei, open the island to more US exports, and increase Taiwan’s ability to resist economic coercion from China.

China has denounced the trade talks, as it does with all forms of high-level engagement between the US and Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. Beijing sees the self-ruled island as a part of its territory and insists it should be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

But Taiwan, which strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, sees itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders.

Thursday’s deal is expected to be signed ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue annual defence summit, a high-level global security summit in Singapore that begins on Friday and which US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu are expected to attend.