Focus Taiwan: 161 U.S. House members call for trade agreement with Taiwan

Washington, Dec. 19 (CNA) One hundred and sixty-one members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, urging him to open negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan.

The letter, signed by more than one third of the 435 House members across party lines, said an agreement would create jobs in the U.S. and reaffirm the country’s continuing commitment to Taiwan.

Noting that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act that sets the framework for U.S.-Taiwan relations, the House members put forth economic and ideological arguments for pursuing such a bilateral trade deal.

In economic terms, Taiwan has become the U.S.’ 11th largest trading partner, the 8th largest export market for U.S. agricultural products, a major purchaser of U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, and the supplier of a significant percentage of the semiconductors used by U.S. manufacturers, the House representatives wrote.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is an important “like-minded partner in the Indo-Pacific region” and has environmental and labor protections, the members of Congress said, citing Taiwan’s adherence to International Labor Organization conventions.

Trade negotiations between Taiwan and U.S. have been stalled for years, largely as a result Taiwan’s refusal to open its market fully to U.S. beef and pork exports, due to concerns about chemical additives.

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