Taiwan seeks Indo-Pacific Economic Framework membership with U.S

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Tai testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A senior Taiwanese minister has pressed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to include the island in the United States’ forthcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, his office said on Tuesday.

Tai last month declined to say if Taiwan would be invited to join the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific economic plan, spurring Senate criticism that excluding the island would be a missed opportunity.

Taiwan has voiced its desire to be a “full member” in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), one part of the administration’s effort to counter what it says is Beijing’s increasing economic and military coercion in the region.

During one hour-long virtual talks on Monday, Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng reiterated to Tai that the island supports the framework and wishes to join it, Hsiao Chen-jung, an official from Deng’s office, told Reuters.

“Regional trade issues are of concern to both sides,” Hsiao said, adding the two sides agreed to keep in touch on issues of mutual concern.

A brief statement from Tai’s office made no mention of the framework, saying the two sides talked about progress on bilateral trade matters and “their mutual interest in working together on issues of common concern, including regionally and in multilateral organizations like the World Trade Organization”.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has condemned the U.S. Indo-Pacific push, saying Washington is creating “exclusive clubs”.

Any Taiwanese participation in the economic section would likely further strain Sino-U.S. ties with Beijing angered by any show of support from Washington for the island.

(Reporting by Jeanny Kao; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)