Reported by Kao Shi-Cin and Wu Fu-Hsin from Taipei
The US Trade Representatives (USTR) published the 2017 trade barrier assessment report on March 31. The report highlights the trade issues with American’s major trade partners. It says in the report that the key issues with Taiwan are: the import of pork and beef, IP right protection, GM products and NHI drug prices. Though these issues are not new, the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) of the MOEA in Taiwan expressed that the USTR seem more determined than before to resolve those issues by describing them as “barriers” rather than “unfavourable policies”.
The BOFT expressed that this report is about the trade barriers faced by US exports. The report is a follow-up of the US President’s trade policy agenda published in March. The report assesses the trade barriers in major exporting countries, including the EU, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.
The BOFT expressed that the issues raised by the USTR are actually under the agenda of the TIFA. The BOFT will continue the communication with the US through the TIFA channel. This year’s TIFA meeting should be held in Taiwan; but, no arrangement has been made so far since President Trump has not yet appointed the new trade representatives.
The report describes the progresses of the bilateral talk between Taiwan and the US. The report points out that Taiwan fails to follow the bilateral agreement of complying with international standards of pork and beef trade.
Regarding the technical trade barriers, the US concerns about the ban on GM foods in school meals, the compulsory labelling of GM contents in foods, the draft revision of the Regulations Governing the Hygiene of Cosmetic Products, the registration system of Chemicals, etc.
As for IP protection, the US acknowledges the efforts made by the Taiwanese government in strengthening the protection of business secrets and pharmaceutical innovations. However, the US will continue watching the progress of the protection of the copyrights of on-line publication, the revision of copyrights regulations and the execution of IP rights.
The US also concerns about the transparency and consistency in the review procedure for investment projects, the predictability and the transparency of NHI drug pricing, the execution of the drug expenditure target system, etc.
However, those who are familiar with trade negotiation will know that the so-called “barriers” are just a game of bluff. The barriers could only be removed when there are major conflicts of trade interests and a negotiation is urgently required. Taiwan will wait and see if any benefits can be obtained from the FITA talk before making any commitment to reducing those “trade barriers”.
【2017-04-02/ United Daily News】