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U.S., Taiwan Meet to Strengthen Trade Ties; Taiwan Grows as Athletic Apparel Exporter

Continuing to cement trade ties between them, the U.S. and Taiwan completed their eighth meeting under the Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) Council at the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Cultural and Representative Office in the Washington, D.C.

The meeting was facilitated by Wendy Cutler, Acting Deputy of the United States Trade Representative Office, and Cho Shih-Chao, Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Economic Affairs. Also included in the talks were representatives from the Department of State, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, the Food and Drug Administration and the Copyright Office.

While the primary focus of the discussions was the strengthening of bilateral ties, there was also considerable attention devoted to multilateral initiatives including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Information Technology Agreement under the supervision of the World Trade Organization and the Trade in Services Agreement.

As fas as U.S.-Taiwan relations are concerned, the negotiations were broad, touching upon several important trade matters including criteria for investment in Taiwan, trade secret protection, agricultural trade, pharmaceutical regulation, the labeling requirements for a wide variety of products and rules governing the intersection of each nation’s financial sector. Both sides acknowledged a pressing need for new standards regarding the protection of intellectual property, especially regarding online piracy.

The U.S. and Taiwan have a historically strong trading relationship, partially buoyed by the American foreign policy to support Taiwanese independence from China. Taiwan is the U.S.’s twelfth largest trading partner, especially important when it comes to food and agricultural exports. In 2013, the total trade between the two nations was valued at $64 billion. The U.S. and Taiwan signed the TIFA agreement in 1994 in order to promote deeper economic cooperation between the two.

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The textile and apparel industry in Taiwan has undergone a sweeping transformation in since the 1950s. In general, its strategic approach has been dominated by the specter of China’s massive imprint in both industries, straining to complement without duplication China’s vast technical capabilities. Taiwan has cultivated an especially strong reputation for petro-chemical and natural raw materials. Many experts predict that its sportswear and fitness apparel manufacturing for the U.S., increasingly lucrative garment categories, will be worth more than $125 billion per year by 2015. Taiwan is also gradually asserting itself as a competitive producer of yoga wear.