In a significant development, Taiwan and the United States announced their intention to sign the inaugural agreement under a novel trade talks framework on Thursday. The landmark deal is poised to strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations, coming at a critical juncture characterised by escalated tensions with China over Taiwan’s democratic governance.

Under the banner of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, discussions between Taiwan and the United States commenced in August last year. The initiative gained impetus following Taiwan’s exclusion from the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a broader pan-Asian trade endeavour spearheaded by Washington.

Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations released a concise statement confirming that the first agreement under this new framework will be signed in Washington on Thursday morning, U.S. time. However, no further details were provided by the office.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office acknowledged the event and announced the attendance of Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi, without divulging additional information.

Significantly, both parties recently reached a consensus on the initial phase of their trade initiative, encompassing crucial aspects such as customs and border procedures, regulatory practices, and small businesses.

Once the inaugural agreement is inked, negotiations will venture into more intricate trade domains, including agriculture, digital trade, labour and environmental standards, state-owned enterprises, as well as non-market policies and practices. The United States Trade Representative has previously affirmed these forthcoming discussions.

While the anticipated pact is not expected to alter tariffs on goods, proponents assert that it will fortify economic bonds between the United States and Taiwan. Additionally, the agreement is anticipated to unlock new avenues for U.S. exports into Taiwan, enhancing the island’s capacity to withstand economic coercion from China.

Conversely, Beijing has vehemently denounced these trade talks, consistent with its opposition to any high-level engagement between Taiwan and the United States. China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has been attempting to exert its influence over Taipei through repeated military activities, including war games conducted in the vicinity of the island.

Taiwan steadfastly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, remaining resolute in defending its democratic autonomy.