A US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement Is a State Priority
On October 14, ALEC Action, ALEC’s 501(c)4 affiliate, released a letter signed by 215 state lawmakers representing 39 states, urging the Biden Administration to prioritize negotiations on a US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA). ALEC’s Federalism & International Relations Task Force (FIR) adopted model policy supporting this trade framework almost a year ago. Taiwan, with a strong commitment to democratic principles and one of the freest economies in the world, has earned expedited consideration. The current Administration’s resumption of bilateral trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) talks as a precursor to a BTA is positive progress.
The US-Taiwan economic relationship is good for America. Capitalizing on trade opportunities is one of the surest ways to rebuild America’s post-COVID economy, and state lawmakers understand the importance of accessing the 95% of the world’s consumers who live beyond our borders. An ideal economic partner for the United States, Taiwan was Asia’s fastest growing economy in 2020, and its growth is expected to accelerate this year. US-Taiwan bilateral trade supported 373,000 American jobs in 2019 in numerous business sectors including high tech, energy and agriculture. The United States is Taiwan’s second largest import market and the third largest provider of energy.
Strengthening America’s bilateral partnership with Taiwan also confers strategic benefits, including securing supply chains for critical items such as semiconductors – a concept amplified in a recently adopted ALEC model resolution here. A Taiwanese semiconductor firm already has a manufacturing facility (FAB) in Washington state and is currently constructing a second FAB in Arizona, helping to secure US supply chains for semiconductors, a critical component for products that American families use every day.
Tangible reminders of America’s steadfast and unwavering support for Taiwan sends an unequivocal message to China that the United States places a high value on the US-Taiwan relationship. A bilateral trade agreement would benefit both nations and would underscore to the world that America views Taiwan’s sovereignty as inviolable and will honor its commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. These strategic frameworks are supported by ALEC model policy which can be accessed here. Recently, China has dramatically escalated military threats against Taiwan prompting Secretary of State Blinken to declare that the US is “… very concerned. …[T]he PRC’s provocative military activity near Taiwan … is destabilizing, … risks miscalculation, and … has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability.” Clear and unambiguous signals and communication are a surer way to prevent military conflict than strategic ambiguity.
Taiwan is an inspiration to state lawmakers across the nation who are genuinely moved by the sovereign island’s stubborn adherence to democracy and thriving free market system despite threats from across the Strait. Expediting the negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan is an economically and strategically sound way to reward and express solidarity with a likeminded ally.