TAIPEI – Taiwan and Japan will hold annual trade talks in Taipei this week, coming after a weekend referendum in the former that could have a negative impact on bilateral relations.
Sources familiar with the two-day talks from Thursday say that both sides are planning to sign at least six agreements or memorandums of understanding.
They will cover a wide range of areas, including cooperation in management of medical equipment and materials, joint research by young researchers, and the mutual support and advancement of cooperation between small and medium-size businesses.
On Saturday, a majority of Taiwanese voted in favor of maintaining a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures that was imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Frank Hsieh, earlier warned that if the referendum were approved, Taiwan would have a “grave price” to pay.
That “grave price” could include Taiwan’s bid to join a Japan-led trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Taiwan has expressed its desire to participate in the second-round of accession talks on numerous occasions.
Taiwan has also been seeking to sign a full-fledged free trade agreement with Japan. However, the ban on the imports of Japanese food products has stalled negotiations on the trade pact.
Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, which were severed in 1972, the unofficial relationship between Taiwan and Japan has remained robust.
Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner after China, including Hong Kong, while Taiwan is Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner.
Bilateral trade totaled $62.7 billion last year, up about 4 percent from the previous year. Japanese investment in Taiwan last year also increased more than 84 percent from the previous year to $649 million.
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