2023-0615: Taiwan Protection and National Resilience Act Clears Senate Committee; House Committee Passes Bill Supporting U.S.-Taiwan Trade Deal

U.S. Senate Committee Passes Bill to Require Strategy to Counter China’s Invasion of Taiwan

On June 8, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) passed the bipartisan “Taiwan Protection and National Resilience Act” (S.1074), which would require the U.S. government to formulate a strategy to counter China’s aggression and potential invasion against Taiwan.

The bill was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) on March 30, and was approved by the SFRC unanimously in a voice vote on June 8.

“It’s in our national and regional security interests to firmly support Taiwan, a valued ally of the United States,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

“Congress must continue to closely monitor the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party] hostile acts against our democratic ally, and remain firm in our strategy to deter any aggression against Taiwan,” he added.

The bill would require the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, and other federal agencies to report to Congress on the U.S.’ non-kinetic options to both prepare for and respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, including opportunities to sanction the CCP and preempt Beijing’s retaliatory measures.

The bill stipulates that the Secretary of Defense, within 180 days after the enactment of the bill, should submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that identifies U.S. goods and services that are relied on by China and could be used as sources of leverage against it.

The report should also include procurement practices of the U.S. Armed Forces and other Federal agencies that are reliant on Chinese goods and services that would present a strategic vulnerability and could be exploited by China, the bill says.

The Secretary of the Treasury would have 180 days after the submission of the above-mentioned report to compile a report that describes a comprehensive sanctions strategy to advise policymakers on how to counter China’s coercive actions, it says.

Coercive actions include “an invasion by the People’s Republic of China that infringes upon the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan by preventing access to international waterways, airspace or telecommunications networks,” it says.

The bill would also request that the Secretary of Commerce make recommendations on how to reduce the U.S.’ trade vulnerability to China.

The bill cleared the SFRC with two provisions added: The bill should not be seen as a change to the U.S.’ “one China policy” and should not be seen as authorizing the use of military force.

The bill will next be sent to the full Senate for consideration, and a similar proposal would have to be passed by the House of Representatives for the proposed legislation to be delivered to the president to sign into law.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202306090004
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/06/10/2003801301

U.S. House Committee Approves Bill Supporting U.S.-Taiwan Initial Trade Deal

On June 13, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed legislation (H.R.4004) affirming Congressional support for the initial agreement reached under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade.

The bill, called the “United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act,” was announced last week by the House committee chair Jason Smith (R-MO) and ranking member Richard Neal (D-MA), as well as by Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID).

It cleared the House committee in a 42-0 vote and now heads for a full House vote.

Taiwan and the U.S. signed a first agreement under the “21st Century Trade” initiative on June 1, which covered customs and border procedures, regulatory practices and small business, to make trade and investment between the two countries easier.

Following the signing, the two sides said they plan to begin negotiations on more complicated issues, such as agriculture, digital trade, labor, and environment and nonmarket policies and practices, as well as state-owned enterprises and standards.

In a press release on June 13, the committee said the bill confirms the U.S. Congress’ support for the initial agreement, and seeks to require Congressional consultation and approval for any subsequent trade agreements with Taiwan.

More specifically, the bill’s latter section refers to an ongoing dispute between the White House and U.S. lawmakers from both parties over the Biden administration’s pursuit of limited trade pacts that bypass Congress, another example being a deal on electric vehicle battery materials struck with Japan in March.

Procedural debates aside, Rep. Smith told the committee that he supports the U.S. administration’s efforts to pursue closer trade relations with Taiwan and believes the substance of the first agreement under the initiative was “sound.”

“The people of the United States and the people of Taiwan share an invaluable economic partnership; we share democratic values and we have strong individual ties between our two nations,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Neal said it was vital for Congress and U.S. trade policy to support democratic Taiwan amid the “incredible pressure” it faces from its authoritarian neighbor, China.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202306140006
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/06/15/2003801568