Taiwan and the United States are poised to sign the first part of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade in Washington at 10 a.m. local time. The agreement will have a wide-ranging impact on the two economies, with export industries such as freight forwarders, courier services, and shipping companies being the first to benefit, The News Lens reports.

The first agreement under the Initiative is an important “building block” toward a future free trade agreement, the Taiwanese government said, calling it the “most comprehensive” deal agreed between the two countries since the 1970s.

Since the launch of the Initiative in June 2022, Taiwanese and U.S. trade negotiators have conducted two rounds of negotiations to finalize the initial agreement, which covers trade facilitation, regulatory practices, domestic regulations for the service industry, anti-corruption measures, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The first agreement does not include tariff reductions or exemptions, but Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the two sides had agreed to hold their first meeting on the initiative in June.

Regarding trade facilitation, the agreement ensures the efficiency and transparency of customs procedures by simplifying customs clearance and border inspections. It also promotes electronic means to expedite customs clearance. Freight forwarders, courier services, shipping companies, customs brokers, cargo owners, and exporters will benefit from these measures.

The agreement also stipulates that government agencies should adopt principles of soundness and transparency when formulating regulations, taking into consideration the impact on SMEs.

Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations said that SMEs account for over 98% of all businesses in Taiwan and are vital to the country’s economic growth. Taiwan and the U.S. will enhance cooperation between institutions such as SME incubation centers and export assistance centers. Efforts will be made to provide information on financing, education and training programs, and trade facilitation.

The agreement states that Taiwan and the U.S. should hold regular dialogues to discuss opportunities and challenges in trade for SMEs. The dialogues serve as a platform for participants to establish connections, engage in business negotiations, and ensure that the opinions of SMEs and stakeholders are heard.

The article first appeared in The News Lens Chinese edition.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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