TAIPEI: Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said early this week that Taiwan-US ties are going from strength to strength and will be expanded across a spectrum of areas.
“Since I took office in May 2008, the government has pursued a low-key, surprise-free approach to bilateral relations,” Ma said. “This has seen Taipei and Washington restore mutual trust and further bolster longstanding ties,” he added.
Ma made the remarks while receiving Joseph Donovan Jr., managing director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, at the Presidential Office in Taipei City. Donovan is in country on a weeklong visit for exchanges with senior government officials on issues of mutual interest.
According to the president, the vibrancy of Taiwan-US relations is illustrated by United States President Barack Obama’s remarks on two occasions last November lauding the nation’s thriving democracy and reaffirming commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act.
On the economic front, Ma said two-way trade scaled new heights last year, up 7.84 percent from 2013 to $62.2 billion.
“Taiwan also surpassed India and Saudi Arabia to become the 10th largest trading partner of the US in 2014, while the US replaced Japan as Taiwan’s second leading partner,” he added.
As an advocate of the Select USA implemented by Washington beginning 2013, Ma said Taiwan is the beneficiary of increased tie-ups under the investment promotion program. “We expect both sides to capitalize on this positive state of affairs this year and move toward fast-tracking talks on investment and e-commerce agreements under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement,” he added.
In terms of regional economic integration, Ma reiterated the government’s commitment to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership so as to level the playing field for the country in global trade.
“Security is also a key aspect of our relations,” Ma said, adding that this is underscored by the $18.3 billion of arms sales to Taiwan over the past six years and the Naval Vessel Transfer Act signed by Obama last December.
Ma said that as a responsible stakeholder and valuable member of the international community, Taiwan will continue promoting regional peace and providing humanitarian aid.
In response, Donovan said the US remains committed to the security and economic independence of Taiwan, and expects the two sides to continue collaborating and discussing key issues like regional economic integration and food safety.
The US official applauded Taiwan for its active role in global disaster relief, citing the government’s efforts in fighting the Ebola outbreak in Africa and assisting refugees in the Middle East.
Donovan also expressed condolences over the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 235 earlier this month in Taipei, extending an offer of wide-ranging assistance on behalf of the United States.