Taiwan's President-elect, Lai Ching-te, has conveyed his keenness for Taipei to become part of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, citing the island's pivotal role in the global economy.
Taiwan was initially excluded from the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework by the United States in 2022, as part of the Biden administration's efforts to counter what it perceives as increasing economic and military pressure from Beijing in the region. However, the U.S. subsequently established the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which complements the existing U.S.-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue and Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration Framework.
President-elect Lai, who is set to assume office on May 20, emphasized the significance of Taiwan's role in the global economy, highlighting that the three existing structures "align with the core principles of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework." He expressed his hope that these structures would serve as a foundation for Taiwan's future participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Taiwan is a major player in the semiconductor industry, producing chips used in a wide range of products, from household appliances to cutting-edge technology and military equipment. Home to TSMC, the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, Taiwan's significance in the global supply chain is undeniable.
In a separate announcement, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry revealed that two U.S. lawmakers, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ami Bera, both members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, are scheduled to visit Taiwan. During their visit, they will meet with President-elect Lai and outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen.
It's worth noting that Taiwan has previously expressed interest in joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. However, trade talks in this regard faced challenges, and an agreement was not reached in time for a summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), where the Biden administration had hoped to showcase the framework as an alternative to deepening trade relations with China.
China, which asserts its claim over Taiwan despite the island's independent government, has criticized the U.S. Indo-Pacific initiative, accusing Washington of forming "exclusive clubs." If Taiwan were to participate in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, it could further strain relations between the U.S. and China, as Beijing strongly opposes any show of support from Washington for the island.
The future involvement of Taiwan in this trade framework remains a matter of diplomatic significance, with potential implications for regional trade dynamics and geopolitical relations.