The United States and Taiwan launched talks on Wednesday aimed at deepening their trade ties, a challenge to Beijing.
The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade is a process called the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, and follows an agreement President Joe Biden announced last week with 12 Asian economies that excluded Taiwan.
Like that effort, the discussions with Taiwan will not involve tariffs or market access items that would require congressional approval, officials said.
Both sides will work at a pace. The US Trade Representative said in a statement that the US Trade Representative said that they wanted to develop an ambitious roadmap for negotiations to reach agreements with high-standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes.
Despite the limited scope of the talks, a senior administration official said it was in keeping with the unofficial relationship with Taipei, they are likely to anger Beijing, which bristles at any indication that Washington is treating the self-governing democracy as an independent nation.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and opposes its participation in international fora including a Pacific trade pact.
Beijing has engaged in a lot of saber rattling to show its displeasure: China has made the second largest incursion into Taiwan's air defense zone this year, with Taipei reporting 30 jets entering the area, including more than 20 fighters.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity. Biden is under pressure to strengthen ties with the island after a bipartisan group of 52 senators urged him to include Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which includes around 40 percent of the global economy.
They wrote to Biden in a letter saying that leaving an important trading partner would allow the Chinese government to claim that the international community does not support meaningful engagement with Taiwan. There is still time to add Taiwan to that effort, according to a senior official.
We didn't include Taiwan in the initial launch. The official told reporters that they intend to take a flexible and adaptable approach to IPEF participation going forward.
The official reiterated Washington's long-standing one China policy, but said the Biden administration also maintains a robust unofficial relationship with Taiwan and. It is committed to deepening it. Deputy USTR Sarah Bianchi and Taiwan's lead trade negotiator John Deng met on Wednesday to launch a new initiative that was designed to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses. The first meeting of the initiative will be held in Washington later in June, and will cover customs procedures and regulations, including rules governing agriculture trade, worker rights and fight against harmful non-market policies - a clear reference to China.
Another administration official said the goal is to produce a high framework, binding agreement, but gave no timeframe for reaching a deal.
Taiwan is the 10th largest export market for the United States and a vital source of semiconductors that are seeing a global shortage, hitting industries that depend on them from autos to smartphones and pushing inflation higher.
The US Commerce Department has launched a separate dialogue with Taipei on technology and investment, two other areas covered by the IPEF.