President Tsai Ing-wen met with David Meale, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations for the US Department of State, on the morning of April 12. She stated that Taiwan and the United States have a great cooperative foundation, and she expressed hope that the two countries can continue to enhance our partnership and create more opportunities for exchanges and development in the future.
In remarks, President Tsai stated that April 10 marked the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), and she offered Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale a warm welcome to Taiwan as a guest speaker for the 2019 Hsieh Nien Fan business dinner hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham).
The president mentioned that Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale served part of his career in Taiwan, and he still remembers Taiwanese cuisine quite well. She expressed her delight at having the chance to see him again in Taiwan after so many years. His visit, she said, maintains the State Department policy of dispatching senior officials to Taiwan, showing the high regard that the United States pays to Taiwan-US economic relations.
On the subject of Taiwan-US cooperation, the president pointed out that our economic and trade links have continued to grow over the years, and investments between both countries are growing in frequency. Last year, Taiwan was the United States' 11th-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade grew by 11% to exceed USD$76 billion, topping US trade with both Brazil and Australia.
In addition, the president further pointed out, last year also witnessed a number of Taiwanese companies express interest in making more significant investments in the United States. Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Corporation, in particular, announced that it would be buying USD$25 billion of liquefied natural gas from the United States. Companies such as Google and Facebook have also resolved to increase investments or expand their operations and training in Taiwan. These are some of the finest examples of cooperation and exchange between Taiwan and the United States, she said.
President Tsai stated that in order to strengthen the development of such exchanges, a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between Taiwan and the United States has long been a priority for us. She expressed confidence that Mr. Meale, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations, would appreciate the positive impact a high-quality BTA would have on our bilateral economic relations.
In recent years, the president continued, Taiwan and the United States have made great progress using dialogue mechanisms underpinning our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to discuss issues such as intellectual property, market access, and investment protections. Thus, a BTA would already have something to build on, and render our economic, trade, and investment relations closer and even more robust, she said.
President Tsai emphasized that Taiwan is also willing to work with the United States to deepen economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The New Southbound Policy her administration has promoted since taking office, she added, happens to share many of the same goals as the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy espoused by US President Donald Trump's administration.
The BUILD Act, President Tsai pointed out, has granted the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation more funding and power to assist countries in need throughout the Indo-Pacific, particularly in terms of building basic infrastructure and supporting economic development. Taiwan is willing to explore potential opportunities for cooperation, she said, and to work with the United States to promote regional prosperity and development.
In closing, the president stated that Taiwan and the United States have established a great cooperative foundation over these past 40 years, and expressed hope that our partnership will continue to grow, creating even more opportunities for exchange and development.
In his remarks that followed, Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale said that it is particularly meaningful for him to be able to participate in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the TRA. He thanked President Tsai for attending AmCham's Hsieh Nien Fan event, and said that the event was a celebration of Taiwan-US relations, as well as an opportunity to explore potential future developments in bilateral trade relations.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale stated that the United States' vision for the Indo-Pacific is one of free, fair, reciprocal, and transparent agreements that unleash the power of enterprises to engage in meaningful economic interaction that will benefit the regional economy. Taiwan-US economic relations, he stated, have much to build upon and great potential for development. He concluded by stating that as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TRA, he thought it was a perfect opportunity to discuss economic relations, and reiterate the deep affection and commitment that the United States has for Taiwan.