November 14, 2019

The past few years have been a golden age for the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. Security cooperation between Washington and Taipei has deepened, the U.S. Congress has passed legislation such as the Taiwan Travel Act that codifies closer ties, the American Institute in Taiwan has opened a huge new facility in Taipei, and the United States has approved extended stopover visits by Taiwan’s president, including in New York City. Now, many in both Washington and Taipei argue that the two sides should seek similar advances in the bilateral economic relationship by opening negotiations on a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement (FTA). Some members of Congress have been outspoken in support of a bilateral FTA, and the Senate version of the Taiwan Assurance Act introduced in 2019 sets this as a goal.1 Likewise, a growing number of U.S. observers have advocated for a bilateral FTA.2 As for Taiwan’s position on this issue, President Tsai Ing-wen views a U.S.-Taiwan FTA as an important priority.3 This essay argues that the United States and Taiwan should begin to negotiate a bilateral FTA. Although U.S.-Taiwan economic relations have been mostly amicable, the relationship has been characterized by a number of persistent disagreements. An FTA would offer the opportunity to resolve these disagreements and would help prevent the marginalization of Taiwan—widely viewed in Washington as an important strategic partner—in a region increasingly characterized by bilateral and multilateral FTAs that Taiwan has been unable to join.

Kastner, Scott L.Asia Policy; Seattle Vol. 14, Iss. 4,  (Oct 2019): 4-10.


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Scott L. Kastner is a Professor in the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. He graduated from Cornell University (1995), and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego (2003). Much of Kastner's research focuses on the international politics of East Asia, and he teaches classes on international relations, US-China relations, international political economy, and East Asia. He is author of China’s Strategic Multilateralism: Investing in Global Governance (with Margaret Pearson and Chad Rector, Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond (Stanford University Press, 2009).  His work has also appeared in the following journals: International SecurityJournal of Conflict ResolutionInternational Studies QuarterlyComparative Political StudiesSecurity StudiesJournal of Peace ResearchForeign Policy AnalysisJournal of Contemporary ChinaJournal of East Asian StudiesIssues and StudiesInternational Journal of Taiwan Studies, and Current History.