Minister John Deng Addresses AmCham Luncheon

AmCham Taipei was honored to invite Minister without Portfolio John Deng, one of the Taiwan government’s chief experts on international trade, to speak on U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade relations at a special luncheon held in the Mandarin Oriental’s Grand Ballroom on October 22. Minister Deng previously served as chief representative at the Office of Trade Negotiations (2007-2008) and as minister of economic affairs (2014-2016). The Chamber was therefore delighted to have him share his insights on the current U.S.-Taiwan relationship, as well as on the prospects for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between the two partners.

Deng stressed the strong and stable nature of trade and investment between Taiwan and the U.S. Taiwan’s exports to the U.S. rose by 7.1% between January and September this year, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also remarked that the economies of Taiwan and the U.S. – particularly in the areas of semiconductors and IC products – are highly complementary, making them natural trade partners.

No relationship is without its challenges, however. Although President Tsai Ing-wen removed a longstanding trade barrier when she announced in August that restrictions on the import of certain types of U.S. beef and pork would be eased starting next year, the move has met with some public criticism. In particular, the lack of response from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative has left some questioning the value of ending the import restrictions. The USTR’s focus on implementing the phase one trade deal with China may have been a factor in the agency’s silence, Deng noted.

Nevertheless, many positive signs have been coming from Washington recently. Deng highlighted evidence of bipartisan Congressional support for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement, including a joint letter signed by 161 U.S. Representatives and another signed by 50 Senators calling on the USTR to begin negotiations for a BTA with Taiwan. And the recent high-level visits to Taiwan by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and that of Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith J. Krach indicate significant progress in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.

These developments can serve as a solid foundation for future relations, regardless of the result of the U.S. presidential election in November, Deng concluded.

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