Taiwan-U.S. TIFA talks unlikely to be held this year: MOFA

Taipei, A new round of talks between Taiwan and the U.S. under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is unlikely to be held before the end of this year, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Thursday.

Regine Chen (???), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs, said Washington has yet to schedule a date with Taipei for the next round of talks.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has other tasks at hand, and holding TIFA talks with Taiwan is not a top priority, she said.

However, Chen said Taipei and Washington have been constantly exchanging views on bilateral trade issues via the existing TIFA platform.

The most recent round of TIFA talks was led by Taiwan's Vice Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (???) and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman in September 2016.

The 2017 TIFA talks were not held due to the fact that three deputy representative positions in the USTR office were vacant, according to Minister without Portfolio John Deng (???), who also heads Taiwan Cabinet's Office of Trade Negotiations.

In 1994, Taiwan and the U.S. signed the TIFA bilateral trade agreement under which 10 rounds of trade talks have since held.

TIFA is the major negotiating channel for high-ranking trade officials of the two countries, led by officials at the deputy minister level.

The first TIFA meeting was held in 1995 and continued in 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2007, taking place in Taipei and Washington, D.C. on a rotating basis, until a five-year gap occurred from 2008 to 2012 due to disputes over imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

The U.S. regarded Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has implied on numerous occasions that a resumption of bilateral talks under TIFA rests on the resolution of the beef issue.

In July 2012, the Legislative Yuan passed amendments to the food safety act, paving the way for the importation of U.S. beef containing ractopamine. The TIFA talks subsequently resumed in March 2013 in Taipei.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel