U.S.-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Deal Key for Ag Even More Unlikely After Washington Uprising

Last week’s Washington uprising could further complicate chances for new U.S. bilateral trade deals covering agriculture, including one with close U.S. ally and Ag customer, Taiwan.

Taiwan is the seventh-largest market for U.S. farm goods, the second biggest per capita. But U.S. Taiwan Business Council chief Rupert Hammond-Chambers says after last week’s U.S. Capitol siege and more political turmoil at home, things are not looking up for a Taiwan bilateral or any other trade deal.

“The politics around pursuing a bilateral trade agreement are perhaps, even more complex now than they were six months ago. And that’s in light of President Tsai’s willingness to unilaterally undertake changes to pork and beef, which have been implemented now.”

Hammond-Chambers says more routine trade talks known as Trade and Investment Framework Agreement or TIFA talks, are more likely under President Biden.

“Overall, the Biden Administration, or the incoming Biden government, has been clear that they’re uninterested in bilateral trade agreements. So, as a practical matter, I think the best that we can hope for in the next year, is a resumption of TIFA.”

And with Taiwan public and commercial resistance to U.S. pork and beef treated with meat-leanness additive ractopamine, not all will depend on Joe Biden. Hammond-Chambers says, “And then, what implementation continues to look like on ractopamine in pork, and the changes to the beef regime.”

U.S. and Taiwan leaders are increasingly pushing a bilateral deal as key to stemming China’s malign behavior in the western Pacific. U.S. farm exports to Taiwan totaled $3.6 billion in 2019.