TIFA talks about give and take: Minister without Portfolio Chi

By Ann Yu , The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Successful bilateral trade talks between Taiwan and the U.S. is a negotiation that requires give and take from both sides, the Minister without Portfolio Schive Chi (薛琦) said yesterday.

In terms of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that restarted on Sunday, Chi explained that the talks between both countries is about give and take. “If we can receive a lot of trade benefits from the U.S. in exchange for something that they want, it then falls on us to decide how much we’ll give in,” he said.

The U.S. has requested that Taiwan lift its ban on pork imports containing ractopamine, a demand that President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah have promised Taiwan would never agree to during their terms.

“It is logical that the U.S. would put pressure on Taiwan for such a demand, but the government can also reject it,” Chi said. He said the relaunch of TIFA talks after a six-year hiatus is important, an improvement that symbolizes a good beginning. “It’s like two friends who got into a fight and then meet again after years of cold war. It’s already an improvement that both sides have decided to meet each other, and an even bigger improvement that there has been progress,” Chi explained.

The seventh round of TIFA talks opened in Taipei at the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Sunday. According to the meeting, both sides have agreed to launch two committees — the Investment Trade Committee and the Technical Trade Barrier Committee — to focus on trade issues between both countries.

In addition, both sides have agreed to two statements — the International Investment Policy Statement and the Taiwan-U.S. ICT Trade Policy Statement.

As for the pork ban issue, Chi agreed that it is expected for the U.S. to pressure Taiwan.

In terms of foreign trade, Taiwan already imports pork, just not where such meat contains the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, Chi said. Stressing that negotiation was “give and take,” Chi said, “If saying yes to imported U.S. pork allows Taiwan to benefit a lot more in trade markets, then the question is if we’re willing to do it.”

Meanwhile, Chi also remarked that now was the best time for cross-strait financial development. As Taiwan’s tight regulations on foreign investments have always been a problem for its financial markets, Chi stressed that Taiwan needed to open up its regulations toward mainland China.

We have just begun to allow Chinese yuan-denominated transactions, Chi said. “The beginning is still slow, because many people are not confident enough. After more familiarity, banks will begin to grow confidence and participate, which will help increase direct capital flow.”