- - Sunday, September 10, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In mid-September, another big delegation of the Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission from Taiwan will come to Washington D.C. to sign the Letters of Intent between Taiwan and U.S. agricultural associations for a total purchase of approximately $3 billion worth of soybeans, corn and wheat to be delivered over the next two years.

It is another sign of the close Taiwan-U.S. relationship that has developed over decades.

After a signing ceremony on Capitol Hill, the soybean and corn subgroup will visit Iowa, Indiana and Missouri, while the wheat subgroup will visit North Dakota, Montana and Idaho to arrange the deals.

Taiwan began sending agricultural procurement delegations to the United States in 1978 and between 1998 and 2016, it had purchased agricultural products worth of $30 billion, a steady and significant increase by any measure.

The U.S. has long been Taiwan’s most important supplier of agricultural products, which makes Taiwan the seventh largest overseas markets for U.S. agricultural exports. Taiwan’s consumers benefit because the quality of the products is high, the pricing is competitive and the United States has been a very reliable trading partner.

Agricultural trade with Taiwan also benefits the United States, especially those farm states that depend on exports for continued economic prosperity. Our message is simple and clear: we cherish our ties and hope to plant the seeds for a mutually beneficial bilateral trade agreement between us.

Economic bonds between Taiwan and the U.S. have continued to grow over the years thanks to various bilateral mechanisms and exchanges, including the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the Digital Economic Forum, the SelectUSA Investment Summit, US Business Day, and the Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission.

In 2016, two-way trade in goods between Taiwan and the U.S. exceeded $65 billion, making Taiwan the U.S.’ 10th largest trading partner. Taiwan has cumulatively invested nearly $26 billion in the U.S. which, along with the bilateral trade, has created and supported more than 330,000 jobs.

This robust and steadily growing trade and investment partnership has laid a solid foundation for a free, fair, high-standard and reciprocal bilateral agreement in the future that would cover agricultural products and elevate our economic relations to a higher level, increasing our trade volume, supporting more jobs in the U.S., and benefiting more American citizens.

The two countries already have a multifaceted relationship based on shared values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, as well as common interests in enhancing peace, security and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.

This June, Taiwan sent its largest delegation ever to the SelectUSA Investment Summit, with 84 companies represented, covering a variety of industries including petrochemical, iron and steel, ICT, biotechnology, banking, machinery, aerospace, franchising and education.

One example speaks volumes about the vigorous partnership — Taiwan-based electronics giant, Foxconn, recently announced it would invest $10 billion to build a new manufacturing plant in Wisconsin.

Taiwan-U.S. relations have never been better in recent memory. We are working together to address global and regional challenges through, among other forums, the Global Cooperation and Training Framework. In late June, the Trump administration confirmed its intention to supply $1.42 billion worth of defensive weapons to Taiwan, including missiles, torpedoes, and technical support for early warning radar.

On August 24, Taiwan launched its first indigenously designed and constructed satellite, Formosat-5, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas, Taiwan was among the first nations to step forward, donating $800,000 for disaster relief efforts and pledging solidarity with the victims.

Taiwan’s relationship with the United States goes back decades. The latest visit by Taiwan’s agricultural delegation suggests that the friendship will not only continue, but get stronger, serving the interests of both countries and the Asia Pacific region.

• Stanley Kao is the representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

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