MOFA reaffirms importance of TIFA talks
Talks between Taipei and Washington under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement are a valuable platform for boosting bilateral relations, according to the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs June 5.
“The TIFA is a mechanism for high-ranking officials from both sides to discuss and review substantial issues,” said Bruce Jung-da Linghu, director-general of the MOFA Department of North American Affairs.
Matters of concern for the Taiwan side, Linghu said, include signing a bilateral investment pact and free trade agreement with the U.S., as well as devising ways for Washington to help Taipei join regional trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The TPP is a proposed trade agreement comprising negotiating partners Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. Three other nations, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, are also seeking to join discussions on the nascent pact.
According to Linghu, Taiwan has adopted a pragmatic manner in working to resume TIFA talks, which have been suspended since early last year largely as a result of the government’s decision to ban U.S. beef imports containing leanness-enhancing feed additives.
MOFA officials and their counterparts at the American Institute in Taiwan are working closely to resolve the beef dispute, he said. “Such efforts are necessary and in line with government policy of strengthening Taiwan’s international competitiveness.”
On the all-important issue of Taiwan’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Linghu said progress in bilateral negotiations augurs well for this to take place by year-end.
Taiwan has met several key VWP requirements, Linghu said, including a visa refusal rate of less than 3 percent. He added that the ministry received a positive response from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after it conducted an on-site review of the island’s anti-terrorism and immigration procedures in March.
Linghu said Taipei and Washington are also discussing whether to extend visa-free privileges to overseas-born ROC nationals who do not have Taiwan household registration. “This is a small technical problem that should be resolved in two or three months.”
The U.S. has granted visa-free privileges to 36 countries, six of which are located in Asia—Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.
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