The U.S. and Taiwan say they’re ready to sign an initial agreement strengthening trade ties in the coming weeks, the latest step in an increasingly tight relationship between the two governments.
Because it falls short of a full free trade pact, the deal won’t require an up or down vote from Congress. But U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s office said it would help U.S. businesses send more goods to Taiwan, while streamlining regulatory procedures so products move more smoothly.
“We look forward to continuing these negotiations and finalizing a robust and high-standard trade agreement,” Tai said in a statement.
The announcement is almost sure to be met with anger by China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and has reacted furiously to signs of the still-technically unofficial relationship between Washington and Taipei growing stronger.
Building up trade with Taiwan has been a hot topic on Capitol Hill, particularly within the House’s select committee on China, whose members met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California earlier this year. Earlier this week, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., told reporters he’d like to see Congress pass a tax agreement with Taiwan as a way to stop the double taxation of U.S. and Taiwanese businesses.
A source close to the China select committee told Semafor that while the panel welcomes the Biden administration’s agreement with Taiwan, advancing it without congressional approval “will harm their durability and limit any effectiveness in providing trading partners meaningful alternatives to deeper trade and economic ties to China.”