The United States and Taiwan reached an agreement on the first stage of a bilateral trade initiative on Thursday, less than a year after negotiations began, in a move that demonstrates an increasingly robust relationship between Washington and Taipei.
The new initiative, titled the US-Taiwan Initiative of 21st Century Trade, was first unveiled in June last year. It will be the first official trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States since US President Joe Biden assumed office in 2021.
While tariffs are not part of the trade initiative, the agreement covers areas including trade facilitation, regulatory practices, services domestic regulation, anti-corruption and supporting small and medium sized enterprises, a statement from the US Trade Representative (USTR) Office said.
“This accomplishment represents an important step forward in strengthening the US-Taiwan economic relationship,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in the statement.
“It demonstrates how we can work together and advance mutual trade priorities on behalf of our people. We look forward to continuing these negotiations and finalizing a robust and high-standard trade agreement that tackles pressing 21st century economic challenges,” she added.
The new agreement marks the first official trade agreement since Taiwan was excluded from the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a regional economic plan launched by Biden last year.
The US Trade Representative Office said discussions will soon begin to finalize the remaining seven areas of the bilateral trade initiative, which include agriculture, labor, environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, digital trade, and non-market policies and practices.
It added that a signing ceremony will be held “in the coming weeks.”