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Thursday, September 17, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Taiwan wants closer trade relations with America, and this is the perfect time for the United States to consider it and gain an upper hand over Communist China.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s top diplomat in America said that the country is eager to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. This is a great opportunity for America, as such an agreement would kill two birds with one stone: A trade agreement with Taiwan would make America less dependent on China while simultaneously punishing the communist government for its role in the global pandemic, its human rights abuses of the Uyghur people, and its violation of Hong Kong’s Autonomy. 


Officially the Republic of China, Taiwan is the last bastion opposing communism in China after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won the civil war over 70 years ago. The country is a free, democratic, and prosperous nation that stands in stark contrast to the CCP’s oppressive rule of the mainland.

Take for instance how the CCP silenced whistleblowers who sounded the alarm about the COVID-19 virus in late 2019. Meanwhile, Taiwan was the first country to warn the World Health Organization about the upcoming pandemic only to be ignored by their Chinese-supported director. 

Or consider the difference in Chinese and Taiwanese business practices. In China, American companies are forced to transfer their technology to the government, they are hacked, and their products are pirated in large scale. In Taiwan, however, American companies not only avoid the problems they face in China but they also enjoy a good business environment thanks to low taxes, a fair justice system, and reasonable regulation. 

Then there’s China’s human rights abuses, which are certainly no secret — claiming international news headlines as their atrocities continue to come to light. In July, American customs agents seized from Chinese imports a 13-ton shipment of human hair taken from ethnic minorities the CCP has imprisoned in concentration camps. In contrast, Taiwan protects it’s citizens from slavery. A USA-Taiwan FTA that drops tariffs and trade restrictions between the two countries would not only be mutually beneficial, but would also direct trade away from communist China — dealing a much-deserved blow to the criminal regime. 

We’ve seen this kind of policy work before. After all, it’s exactly what happened after the FTA with South Korea went into effect in 2012: America stopped importing over $6 billion per year of Chinese textiles, footwear, and electronics, choosing instead to get those goods from South Korea. This is because reducing tariffs on Korea reduced the cost of doing business there relative to China. Additionally, that FTA with South Korea was estimated to have created over 70,000 jobs in the United States since American manufacturers could produce more cheaply with Korean technology products and American farmers now had a new market for their produce.

The U.S. could expect similar benefits from a free trade agreement with Taiwan. Like South Korea, Taiwan is a major technology hub with potential to boost innovation in America. It’s also a potential growth market for American farmers whose products are currently heavily restricted there. 

By reducing the cost of technology and industrial inputs, a free trade agreement would create tens of thousands of American jobs—a welcome development for the nearly 30 million Americans collecting unemployment benefits due to the pandemic-induced recession. And since tariffs translate to higher prices for American consumers, lowering tariffs on Taiwanese products would also lower the cost of living for the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Making matters even better, Taiwanese ports, just 100 miles from mainland China, are an attractive alternative for all the cargo that circulated through Hong Kong before the U.S. ended their special trade status a few months ago.

The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for the death of nearly 200 thousand Americans who were infected with the COVID-19 virus because it chose to hide information from the scientific community and silence whistleblowers. The communist regime is guilty of putting over 1 million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in Western China and for violating the legal status of Hong Kong, stripping away their freedom and sovereignty.

The least we can do to punish the CCP for its crimes is accept the offer to negotiate a free trade agreement with Taiwan. It should be a no-brainer for the White House and Congress to create American jobs, reward a loyal ally, and punish a criminal regime that harms its citizens and Americans alike.

• Daniel Di Martino is an economist and commentator, a Young Voices contributor and a PhD candidate at Columbia University. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielDiMartino.


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