Ma Ying-jeou seeks stronger Taiwan-US relations

Ma Ying-jeou receives James Jones, former U.S. national security advisor on June 22.
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said June 22 that his administration is working to strengthen all aspects of Taiwan-U.S. ties, an approach he expects to help facilitate the island’s inclusion in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in efforts to get negotiations under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement back on track,” Ma said. “TIFA talks will bolster bilateral economic cooperation and lay the foundation for Washington devising ways to help Taipei join regional trade pacts such as the TPP.”

Ma made the remarks while receiving James Jones, former U.S. national security advisor in the President Barack Obama administration from January 2009 to October 2010, at the Presidential Office in Taipei City.

TIFA talks, which are a mechanism for high-ranking ROC and U.S. officials to discuss and review trade and investment issues of mutual interest, have been suspended since early last year largely as a result of Taiwan’s decision to ban U.S. beef imports containing leanness-enhancing feed additives.

“Strengthening Taiwan’s economic partnership with the U.S. is in line with the ROC government policy of attaining greater regional economic integration,” Ma said, adding that his administration envisages TPP membership for the nation within eight years.

The TPP is a proposed trade agreement comprising negotiating partners Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. Other nations such as Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, are also looking to join discussions on the nascent pact.

Ma said that aside from the issue of American beef imports, Taiwan-U.S. relations have gone from strength to strength since he took office in May 2008.

“Our low-profile and no-surprise approach in exchanges with Washington has restored mutual trust between the two sides,” Ma said.

“Bilateral relations are now at their highest level in 30 years,” he said, citing as evidence Taiwan’s U.S. Visa Waiver Program candidacy and statements by U.S. officials describing the island as a staunch partner.

The president vowed to continue bolstering cultural, economic and security cooperation between the two sides, and expressed hope that Washington will keep supporting Taipei’s goal of securing an expanded role for Taiwan in international organizations.

Taiwan Today