Taiwan, US hold second economic partnership dialogue

The US-Taiwan dialogue was the second one since the session in November 2020.
The US-Taiwan dialogue was the second one since the session in November 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI - Taiwan and the United States discussed supply chain resilience, including on semiconductors, and how to respond to external economic coercion during an economic dialogue on Tuesday (Nov 23).

As the virtual US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue was held, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, prompting China's Foreign Ministry to slam the transit as a "deliberate attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability".

A statement from the US 7th Fleet called the passage a "routine" transit through the strait.

The transit by the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius was the first since US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held their virtual summit last week. Mr Xi had warned Mr Biden not to cross the red line that is Taiwan. Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary.

On Tuesday, Taiwan's Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua and Science and Technology Minister Wu Tsung-tsong, as well as US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez, led the five-hour dialogue.

Ms Wang told reporters that they discussed supply chain collaboration, including on semiconductors. Taiwan holds around 50 per cent of the world's computer chip foundry production capacity.

"The semiconductor portion included the present short-term supply chain bottleneck problem. Even more important is the future long-term collaboration," she said.

They also discussed advancing research on semiconductors, which experts believe will continue to be a priority in US-Taiwan collaborations.

Taiwan Institute of Economic Research researcher Arisa Liu said: "The main area Taiwan will be working with the US will be in the semiconductor sector. The US is seeking to (gain access) to Taiwan's chips, which are in hot demand globally, and this will gradually expand to other fields."

She counts 5G, artificial intelligence and automotive electronics among the next steps in boosting the economic relationship.

The issue of economic coercion also came up in the talks, Ms Wang said, with the delegations citing the case of Lithuania and agreeing that no countries should be the target of external economic coercion.

Lithuania has come under economic pressure from Beijing after allowing Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the island and the US agreed to stand together against "external coercion".

"Both sides believe that no economy should receive external coercion. Hence, Taiwan and the US will be working with like-minded nations to strengthen ties to stand up against economic coercion that violates international trade rules," it added.

The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy, said the US and Taiwan will hold an inaugural government-level bilateral science and technology meeting next year, and set up a business advisory group.

The US-Taiwan dialogue was the second one since the session in November 2020.

Ahead of the dialogue, China's state media Global Times said the meeting was "nothing but a kidnap of the island" and blasted the US for its "economic coercion of Taiwan's semiconductor sector".

The dialogue should be seen "as a step towards further long-arm coercion from the US", it said on Monday, adding that the US had pressed automakers and chip companies, including Taiwan's semiconductor giant TSMC, to provide confidential data including sales and raw materials.