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U.S., Taiwan commit to restarting trade talks in coming weeks

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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (left, image taken from meets virtually with Taiwan Minister-Without-Portfolio John Deng (right, CNA photo)

Washington, June 10 (CNA) The United States and Taiwan have committed to restarting talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) mechanism in coming weeks, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said on Thursday.

In a press statement, the office said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met virtually with Taiwan Minister-Without-Portfolio John Deng earlier in the day.

"Ambassador Tai and Minister Deng (are) committed to the convening of the 11th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) in the coming weeks," the office said.

The AIT and TECRO are the de facto embassies of the U.S. and Taiwan, respectively, in each other's territory in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two sides.

During the virtual conference, Tai emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relationship and explained the Biden-Harris Administration's worker-centered trade priorities, the office said.

She also expressed the U.S.' continued interest in working together with Taiwan on issues of common concern in multilateral organizations, it added.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Tai planned to speak with her Taiwanese counterpart as early as Thursday, as the two governments were moving to restart TIFA talks.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also hinted that Washington may resume TIFA talks with Taipei during a legislative hearing.

TIFA is a platform initiated by the U.S. to expand its trade and investment with other economies.

Taiwan and the U.S. signed the agreement in 1994 and had hosted 10 high-level talks alternately from 1995-2016, but such discussions were suspended by the Trump administration.

According to commentators in Taiwan, the talks were discontinued because of the U.S.' displeasure with Taiwan's trade restrictions on some American goods, particularly agricultural products.

Taiwan has been keen to restart the TIFA talks, with a goal of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement, amid its continued exclusion from many regional trade mechanisms due to China's opposition.

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