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US, Taiwan Clinch '21st Century Trade' Pact Deal Amid Washington-Beijing Tensions

© AP Photo / Damian DovarganesUS and Taiwan flags. File photo
US and Taiwan flags. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.05.2023
The US and China remain at loggerheads over Taiwan, with Beijing considering its sovereignty over the island indisputable. China has repeatedly warned the US against official contacts with Taipei.
In a sign of the US further expanding its clout in Taiwan, Washington and Taipei have clinched a deal on the first part of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement on Thursday that “this accomplishment represents an important step forward in strengthening the US-Taiwan economic relationship.” She added that the deal covers customs and border procedures, regulatory practices, and small business.

According to Tai, the agreement will allow American businesses “to bring more products to Taiwan and Taiwanese customers, while creating more transparent and streamlined regulatory procedures that can facilitate investment and economic opportunities in both markets, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises.”
She said that the signing of the initial agreement related to the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade will be followed by negotiations on the two’s more complicated trade areas, such as agriculture, digital trade, labor and environmental standards, as well as and non-market policies and practices.

"We look forward to continuing these negotiations and finalizing a robust and high-standard trade agreement that tackles 21st century economic challenges," the US Trade Representative stressed.

Taiwan's Office of Trade Negotiations, in turn, touted the agreement as "historically significant," adding that Taiwan aimed to wrap up the negotiations on all remaining issues before the end of this year.

Сhina has not commented on the matter yet, but Beijing is expected to react angrily to the US-Taiwan initiative, given that the PCR has repeatedly called on Washington to stop all forms of official interaction with Taipei.

Although the US does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Washington has a representative office in Taipei and remains the island's biggest supplier of military hardware.
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Tensions between mainland China on the one hand, and Taiwan and countries boosting cooperation with the island on the other hand, escalated after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August 2022.
Beijing condemned Pelosi's trip, which it regarded as a gesture of support for separatism, and held large-scale military exercises in the vicinity of the island in a retaliatory move.

Beijing considers Taiwan as an unalienable part of China’s sovereign territory and opposes any official contacts between the island and other countries.

The tensions are also exacerbated by the US repeatedly sending warships and surveillance planes to the Taiwan Strait, with Beijing slamming such missions as provocations and portraying Washington as "a security risk creator in the region."
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