l The United States and Taiwan are scheduled to begin a new round of talks under the “Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA),” set to start on January 28 in Taipei. The focus will apparently fall on post-ECFA trilateral economic relations between the US, China, and Taiwan, particularly intellectual property rights enforcement, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, agricultural (including US beef imports) issues and others matters related to trade barriers.
l The TIFA, signed in September 1994, provides an official framework for US-Taiwan official dialogue on trade and economic issues, but the two sides have not held any TIFA talks since 2007, primarily because of non-economic factors.
l Another priority issue in US-Taiwan relations this year is the likelihood of Washington granting visa-free status to Taiwan passport holders. As part of the government steps to meet the requirement for visa-free treatment, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) plans to launch a new policy requiring that passport applications be filed in person, scheduled to be implemented in July.
l The planned change in passport application will help reduce passport forgery and boost Taiwan’s chances of gaining visa-free privileges from the United States. At the same time, the decrease in the US visa refusal rate for Taiwanese passport holders to 2.2 percent in 2010 is another factor favorable to Taiwan's bid.
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