US and Taiwan to hold second round of economic dialogue next week

Taiwan hopes the dialogue may lead eventually to a free-trade agreement with the US. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States and Taiwan next week will hold a second session of an economic dialogue launched last year in the face of increasing pressure on the island from China, the State Department said on Friday (Nov 19).

The announcement comes days after a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. After the meeting, Mr Xi warned that supporters in the US of Taiwanese independence were "playing with fire".

A State Department statement said the US Under-Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose Fernandez will lead the second US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue on Monday.

It said the dialogue would be conducted under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, which act as respective unofficial embassies.

"Our partnership is built on strong two-way trade and investment, people-to-people ties, and in common defence of freedom and shared democratic values," the statement said.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said the virtual meeting would be led from its side by Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua and Science and Technology Minister Wu Tsung-tsong.

Taiwan hopes the dialogue may lead eventually to a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US and hailed last year's inaugural meeting as a step forward.

It was part of increased US engagement with Taipei under former President Donald Trump that the Biden administration has continued, to the anger of Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own.

The two sides held long-delayed talks on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement virtually in July, and Taiwan said it hoped it would be possible to sign an FTA one day.

Last year, Taiwan's government lifted a ban on the import of pork containing a leanness-enhancing additive, ractopamine, removing a major stumbling block to a deal with Washington, but is due to hold a referendum on the issue next month.

Taiwan is a major producer of semiconductors, a shortage of which has roiled supply chains globally and affected automakers in particular, concerning Washington, which has pressed Taiwan to speed up chip production.

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