2023-0810: Biden Signs Law Approving First U.S.-Taiwan Trade Deal; Aso’s Remarks on Defending Taiwan Militarily

Biden Signs Law Approving First Part of U.S.-Taiwan Trade Pact

On August 7, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the “United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act” (H.R.4004) that expresses Congressional approval for the initial U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement reached under the “21st Century Trade” initiative.

After a year of negotiations, the U.S. and Taiwan signed the “first agreement” under the trade initiative on June 1, which seeks to facilitate bilateral trade and investment flows by streamlining customs and border procedures, setting standards for “good regulatory practices” and “services domestic regulation,” and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.

The newly-enacted legislation requires the U.S. President to report to the U.S. Congress on how this initial trade agreement with Taiwan would enhance U.S.-Taiwan trade relations and advance the interests of U.S. workers, consumers, enterprises, and farmers.

The Act also states that this first trade agreement may enter into force no earlier than 30 days after the President certifies in writing to Congress that Taiwan has taken measures necessary to comply with the agreement.

The Act also requires U.S. officials to ensure that the negotiation of further agreements with Taiwan under the trade initiative would be made transparently and in full consultation with the Congress.

However, in a White House statement issued on August 7, President Biden said that section 7 of the Act includes requirements that would raise “constitutional concerns,” such as requiring the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to provide negotiating texts to Congress in the midst of negotiations, and barring the USTR from transmitting U.S.-proposed texts to Taiwan while the Congress is reviewing them.

“In cases where the requirements of section 7 of the Act would impermissibly infringe upon my constitutional authority to negotiate with a foreign partner, my Administration will treat them as non-binding,” Biden said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202308080005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/08/09/2003804473

Japan, U.S. Must Show Resolve to Defend Taiwan Militarily: Former Japan PM Aso

On August 8, former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is currently vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said in Taipei that the best way to deter a Chinese invasion is for Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., and other like-minded countries to make it clear to China that they would be prepared and willing to defend Taiwan militarily.

At a security forum in Taipei, Aso said that Japan considers Taiwan an “extremely important partner and friend,” because the two countries share “universal values, such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law,” and have formed close economic and trade relations, as well as people-to-people ties.

“Taiwan is an indispensable friend to countries in the region and those wider afield that share the same core values,” he said.

He reiterated that Japan and other G7 countries seek peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, adding that China and Taiwan should resolve their differences through peaceful means.

Enhancing deterrence is crucial, including by improving self-defense capabilities, having the will to defend oneself and conveying these two to the opponent, he said.

The 82-year-old Japanese politician called on like-minded countries to “wake up now,” saying it is time to focus on full deterrence.

Aso emphasized that the best way to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is for democratic countries, including Japan and the U.S., to send a clear message to Beijing that they would be willing to go to war to defend Taiwan.

As for Taiwan, “the people of Taiwan should have a determined will” to defend their sovereignty, as well as to maintain the nation’s prosperity, he said.

Countries around the world should also come together to improve economic resilience and economic security by countering malicious business practices, he said.

He emphasized that Japan supported Taiwan in its bid to join the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP), a trade bloc of which Tokyo is a founding member, as well as Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.

In concluding his half-hour address, Aso said that as Taiwan prepares to elect a new president next year, it is his hope that whoever wins will continue to share the same core values with his country and “fight alongside Japan against external pressures.”

Aso has been serving as vice president of Japan’s longtime ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since 2021. The senior Diet member also served as Japan’s prime minister from 2008 to 2009, and as deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2021. He has also headed the country’s foreign and finance ministries.

His trip to Taiwan from August 7-9 made him the first sitting LDP vice president to visit Taiwan since Japan severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1972.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202308080010
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/08/09/2003804455