By Chun Han Wong 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she wants to start talks on a free-trade pact with the U.S., part of a broad effort to deepen her island democracy's partnership with Washington and resist pressure from Beijing.

In an online speech aired Wednesday, Ms. Tsai said starting trade negotiations are among her second-term priorities in strengthening relations with the U.S., a major trading partner and key arms supplier for Taiwan.

Ms. Tsai didn't set a time frame for the talks. Progress toward formal negotiations have been stalled for roughly two decades over disagreements that include Taiwanese policy on chemicals used in the production of American pork and beef. "We must be clear-eyed on how we can move forward" on a free-trade deal, she warned, while signaling a willingness to overcome the differences.

"For too long, closer trade relations have been hindered by technicalities that account for just a small fraction of two-way trade," Ms. Tsai said in her comments, delivered to an online forum organized by two Washington think tanks, the Hudson Institute and the Center for American Progress.

"We want to work together to resolve these issues in a way that is safe for our consumers and also consistent with established scientific standards," she said.

The U.S. is Taiwan's second largest trading partner. Two-way trade in goods and services amounted to about $94.5 billion in 2018, according to U.S. government data.

China's ruling Communist Party, which has never governed Taiwan but claims the island as its territory, has used its economic clout and global influence to pressure Ms. Tsai's government and isolate Taipei diplomatically.

Write to Chun Han Wong at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 12, 2020 10:50 ET (14:50 GMT)

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