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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Talking trade with Taiwan

Taiwan flag military
Chiang Ying-ying/AP
/
AP
FILE - A Taiwanese military officer salutes to Taiwan's flag onboard Navy's 124th fleet Lafayette frigate during military exercises off Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

There are new developments this week in the relationship between the United States and Taiwan. The latest news doesn’t focus on military relations, but on trade.

Every round of trade talks has a label.

This one is called the “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.”

One focus is semiconductors — and supply chains.

The Biden Administration says it will also include digital approaches to cutting some delays and regulatory paperwork.

If that sounds familiar, it’s remarkably similar to a trade initiative President Biden announced just last week in Asia — the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”

That one includes 13 countries — from Australia and Japan to India, South Korea and Vietnam.

A bipartisan group of 252 members of the Senate and the House sent President Biden a letter urging that Taiwan be included in that group.

But some countries in the Framework were not comfortable with including Taiwan — not wanting to upset China.

There’s another parallel between these two trade discussions.

They don’t include any guaranteed access to U.S. markets.

Critics call this a shortcoming of both deals — but it’s also a result of American politics.

Negotiations on market access that change existing laws need Congressional approval.

Those that have more general goals do not require anything from Congress — making them much easier to manage.

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