The United States and Taiwan have announced the start of trade talks amid heightened tensions with China over the status of the self-ruled island.
Washington and Taipei said on Thursday they agreed to move forward with the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, which seeks to boost trade and advance common standards in areas such as anti-corruption policy and environmental regulations.
The US Trade Representative said the two sides had reached a consensus on a mandate for negotiations, with the first round of talks expected to take place within two to three months.
The announcement comes after US President Joe Biden opted to exclude the democratic island from the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
The Asia-focused economic initiative is widely seen as aimed at countering China’s growing influence as a rising military power and the world’s second-largest economy. China is the biggest trading partner of most of the region’s major economies, including Taiwan.
The talks drew a sharp rebuke from China, which responded to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan with unprecedented military exercises and trade sanctions against the island.