US and Taiwan sign first trade agreement in 40 years

2 June 2023

The US and Taiwan have signed a historic new trade agreement that appears extra symbolic against the backdrop of rising tensions between the US and China. 

The US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade - which aims to increase bilateral trade - is the most comprehensive trade agreement signed between the two countries since 1979.

The agreement looks to streamline border procedures and reduce red tape, making it easier and cheaper for US businesses to export products to Taiwan.

Other ambitions also include formalising new anti-corruption measures.

United States Trade Representative spokesperson, Sam Michel, said the agreement “is intended to strengthen and deepen the economic and trade relationship between the United States and Taiwan.”

He added: “We thank our Taiwan partners for helping us reach this important milestone and look forward to upcoming negotiations on additional trade areas set forth in the initiative’s negotiating mandate.”

For is part, the Taiwanese government said the agreement represents a “key step” in its efforts to sign trade agreements with other major trading countries.

However, the deal has already received backlash from China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, told a media briefing that the US “must not send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces in the name of trade.”

The trade deal comes amid escalating tensions between the US and China following export restrictions from both countries over key technologies. Tensions have worsened over the status of Taiwan. 

The UK foreign secretary James Cleverly warned war in Taiwan would destroy world trade, in response to increased military drills China has conducted surrounding the island in the past year.

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