On the afternoon of June 29, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered remarks at the Presidential Office on the national pandemic response and bilateral negotiations with the United States under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The president stated that the resumption of TIFA talks on June 30 after a five-year hiatus is an important step forward for Taiwan's international trade, and that systematic dialogue under TIFA will lay a more solid foundation for the economic and trade partnership between Taiwan and the United States. The president noted that the streamlining of import and export procedures for medical supplies is a key item on the TIFA meeting agenda, and expressed confidence that substantive collaboration in this area would be of considerable help to Taiwan at this stage of our pandemic response.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
We can see from the number of confirmed cases over the past few days that the outbreak is receding. But because the highly infectious and more deadly Delta variant has surfaced in Pingtung County's Fangshan Township, I urge everyone to remain vigilant and not get careless.
We have already strengthened border controls and will continue to cooperate with all county and city governments. Yesterday, the Miaoli County incident command post completed its mission and announced it will wind down operations.
We are also cooperating closely with Pingtung County, Taipei City, and New Taipei City, and hope to reduce confirmed case numbers through continued efforts in screening, outbreak investigation, potential contact identification, quarantine, and vaccination. We need everyone to follow the Central Epidemic Command Center's (CECC) guidelines and work together so that Taiwan can leave this pandemic behind as soon as possible.
I have some other news to share with you today. Talks under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will reconvene tomorrow for the first time in five years. This is a very important step for Taiwan's international trade.
For the past several years, we have been promoting the structural transformation of our economy, and have shown our determination to resolve difficult trade issues and engage with the world. Taiwan and the United States both believe that now is the time for TIFA to move forward.
TIFA is the platform on which Taiwan and the United States conduct institutionalized dialogue and negotiations on trade and economic issues. Convening this platform lets us systematically advance our dialogue on trade and deal with related bilateral issues. This is highly important to our efforts to deepen Taiwan-US economic and trade ties.
The substantive issues that we cover in TIFA are all about establishing a more robust foundation for our economic and trade partnership.
As part of these talks, we will conduct an overall review of Taiwan-US trade issues, discussing both past issues that have accumulated over time, as well as current issues that have come up in response to emerging international circumstances. We will work together to set up frameworks, principles, and procedures to deal with these matters. This will provide structure and tempo to our efforts to promote bilateral trade, as well as to our discussions on global issues of mutual concern.
Tomorrow's TIFA talks include a key item: streamlining import and export procedures for medical supplies. Collaboration in this area would be of considerable help to us at this stage of our pandemic response. I have directed our negotiation team to spare no effort in this regard.
In recent years, countries in the Indo-Pacific have shared a common goal of regional peace and prosperity. By containing the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan and maintaining economic stability, we can contribute further to this peace and prosperity.
So, by convening the TIFA platform for dialogue, we are working together with our trusted partners to resolve these issues and make progress in bilateral, regional, and global trade. This is, without a doubt, an important step forward. I call on all Taiwanese to lend your support to our tireless diplomatic and trade teams in this mission.
To close, I would like to share some personal thoughts.
A few days ago, a COVID-19 outbreak in Fangshan Township, Pingtung County impacted sales of mangoes grown there. But thanks to production and marketing assistance from the Council of Agriculture, and public enthusiasm for buying Fangshan mangoes, problems with cancelled orders were solved in just two days. So, on behalf of my hometown, I want to express my deepest thanks to our good friends who reached out with such enthusiasm to lend a helping hand.
During the pandemic, we have also seen many friends sending boxed meals to frontline medical personnel, collecting goods to distribute to those in need, and helping small businesses spread take-out information online, using their power as individuals to support those most affected.
These efforts all show the kindness, generosity, and touching warmth of Taiwanese society, and I want to thank all Taiwanese who contributed during this period. Because of you, Taiwan can face every challenge with resilience and weather any storm. Thank you.