In a historic move, Taiwan and the United States are preparing to ink their inaugural deal under the newly formulated trade dialogue on Thursday, a move seen as an enhancement of relations amidst China's intensified pressures on Taiwan, a democratically-governed region.
The negotiations, launched last August under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, began after Taiwan was bypassed by Washington's broader pan-Asian economic strategy, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Taiwan's Office of Trade Negotiations announced in a succinct statement that the pioneering agreement under this initiative would be ratified in Washington, U.S. time, on Thursday morning, providing no further information.
The U.S. Trade Representative's office confirmed that Sarah Bianchi, Deputy United States Trade Representative, would be present at the signing ceremony, but did not divulge further information.
Just last month, both parties agreed on the preliminary components of their trade initiative, which included aspects such as customs and border protocols, regulatory procedures, and small businesses.
Following the signing of this initial agreement, complex trade discussions are set to begin, encompassing sectors like agriculture, digital commerce, labor and environmental norms, state-owned enterprises, and non-market policies and practices, as per previous statements from the USTR.
While the pact is unlikely to affect goods tariffs, supporters believe it will bolster the economic ties between the United States and Taiwan, enable increased American exports to Taiwan, and heighten Taiwan's capacity to withstand economic duress from China.
China, which perceives Taiwan as part of its territory, has consistently criticized such trade dialogues and all forms of top-tier collaboration between Taiwan and the United States.
Taiwan, on the other hand, staunchly opposes China's sovereignty assertions, particularly as Beijing attempts to impose these claims on Taipei through ongoing military activities, including simulated military operations around the island.