An aerial view of the landscape in Taipei, Taiwan, on 19 November 2020
An aerial view of the landscape in Taipei, Taiwan, on 19 November 2020Reuters

Taiwan’s foreign minister voiced confidence on Saturday that the incoming government of US president-elect Joe Biden would support a long sought-after bilateral trade agreement, following high level economic talks with the outgoing administration.

Last month, Frank Jannuzi, a key Biden aide when the president-elect was in Congress, wrote that Washington should prioritise free trade negotiations with Taiwan to encourage others, including Britain, the European Union and Japan, to follow suit.

In August, Taiwan eased restrictions on imports of US pork and beef, which had been a stumbling block to free trade talks.

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Speaking in Taipei after Taiwan-US economic talks, foreign minister Joseph Wu noted the cross-aisle support for Taiwan’s meat decision, as well as October’s call by 50 US senators from both parties for president Donald Trump’s administration to begin negotiating a trade deal with the island.

“I think bipartisan support on Capitol Hill is still very strong, and I think that kind of support for a Taiwan-US BTA will continue into the new administration,” Wu said.

The world’s biggest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, announced plans this year for a $12 billion semiconductor factory in Arizona, a move US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said would increase US economic independence from China

Friday’s talks, under the auspices of a new Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, were not related to a possible trade deal, instead focusing on areas including science and technology, supply chain restructuring and 5G networks.

In a nod to tech-heavyweight Taiwan’s importance as a global chip maker for the likes of Apple Inc, Taiwan’s government said both sides “confirmed that strategic cooperation on the semiconductor industry is a mutual priority”.

The world’s biggest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, announced plans this year for a $12 billion semiconductor factory in Arizona, a move US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said would increase US economic independence from China.

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The US State Department said in a statement on the talks that the two agreed to negotiate a science and technology agreement, and that future talks would help strengthen their economic relationship and “our shared commitment to free markets, entrepreneurship, and freedom”.

The dialogue, held virtually and in person in Washington, is part of increased US engagement with Taipei by the Trump administration which has angered Beijing. China claims the democratic island as its sovereign territory.