US to send delegation of trade and economic officials to Taiwan

The US will send a delegation of trade and economic officials to Taiwan next week as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to strengthen commercial relations with the country.

The US Trade Representative’s office announced on Wednesday that Terry McCartin, his senior official in charge of trade with China, will lead a delegation to Taiwan from 14 to 17 January. The USTR said officials from other government agencies would also be in attendance. Beijing opposes a trade initiative between Taipei and Washington.

Since Biden became president, US government officials have visited Taiwan. rare cases. In early 2021, John Hennessy-Neland, Washington’s ambassador to Palau, visited the country and met with top officials on a trip that Beijing has condemned. Last month, Tony Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, visited Taiwan to discuss economic issues.

Visit by then-Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last summer a sharp rise in tension with China, putting Biden in a difficult position.

The administration sought to expand U.S. economic relations with Taiwan, although the country was not included in the Indo-Pacific economic structureWashington’s flagship trade initiative with the region.

In June, Washington agreed to start trade talks with Taiwan that included virtual meetings as well as a face-to-face meeting in New York.

Under the USTR’s negotiating mandate, the talks will focus on a range of issues, including agricultural and digital trade, the role of state-owned enterprises, and labor, environmental and anti-corruption standards.

A US official said additional rounds of talks are likely to follow next week’s talks in Taiwan. The official added that the US delegation will be traveling on a commercial aircraft and has contacted the State Department about security measures in accordance with standard protocol.

The USTR stressed that the talks would proceed “in accordance” with the US “one China” policy, as well as the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

The US does not have official diplomatic relations with Taipei. But speeding up trade talks could derail Biden and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, to strengthen their relationship after meeting at the G20 in Indonesia in November.

Additional coverage by Felicia Schwartz in Washington

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