AmCham sees opportunity for US to build new strategic ties with Taiwan

China | 10 Jun 2020 5:05 pm

Taiwan and the United States should seize the opportunities presented by the new coronavirus pandemic's revamping of the world economy to pursue a new strategic partnership, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) said in Taipei, in its annual Taiwan White Paper released today.

The continued souring of U.S.-China relations -- first due to deep-seated trade tensions and then mutual recriminations over the spread of the virus -- has brought new hope of cooperative economic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, according to AmCham, CNA reports.

"The decoupling of the U.S.-China economies has naturally resulted in the shift to supply chains outside of China. I think it's Taiwan's opportunity," said AmCham chairman C.W. Chin.

Since the U.S. appears determined to restructure supply chains to reduce American dependence on China, and because only a certain extent of manufacturing capability can realistically be relocated to the U.S. in the near- to medium-term, the U.S. will need to rely on trusted allies, the chamber said.

Given its shared democratic values with the U.S., dedication to the rule of law and long history of working with major American companies, Taiwan deserves to be at the top of the list, it said in the white paper.

For instance, a recently announced plan for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to invest US$12 billion to build an advanced integrated-circuit plant in Arizona indicates the potential scope for this kind of cooperation, according to the chamber.

The chamber urged Washington to recognize and act on the contributions Taiwan can make in reducing American vulnerability in high-tech supply chains.

The U.S. needs to assure technological leadership in key areas, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and biomedicine, and the need for such a policy was clear even before the current pandemic struck, the chamber said.

"It is even clearer now as the U.S. must consider ways not just to revive a crippled economy but to propel it to new strengths," it suggested.

In addition, Taiwan needs to be willing to take bold steps to carve out a more secure position, the chamber said.

Taiwan's strategic position will be bolstered by the international respect and goodwill it has earned through its handling of the coronavirus, as well as the apparent increased willingness of the U.S. to help enable Taiwan to participate more actively in the international community, it said.

"Given the broad bipartisan disillusionment in the U.S. with the state of relations with China, American policymakers can be expected to give less weight to Beijing's potential reaction to initiatives toward Taiwan," the chamber said.

Taiwan and the U.S. are encouraged to bring the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) -- the platform established in 1994 that serves as a major negotiating channel for high-ranking trade officials from each side -- back on track as soon as possible, it said.

Observers suspect that perceived trade barriers by the U.S., such as a lack of openness in agricultural and service markets, as well as Taiwan's restrictions on U.S. beef and pork imports, are the reasons behind the suspension of the talks, which were last held in 2016.

"From the perspective of the U.S. business community in Taiwan, the TIFA talks have proved to be extremely useful in improving mutual understanding and resolving policy differences between Taiwan and the U.S.," the chamber said.

In addition, the chamber urged both sides to begin preliminary discussions for launching bilateral trade agreement negotiations.

In the current political environment, the chamber argued, Beijing's opposition might carry less weight than it has in the past, and the U.S. administration would likely have to expend less political capital to cope with the situation.

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