Rejecting Secret Talks: Call for Transparency in Taiwan-US Trade


Statement from CCMTUSTI21C on the Need for Transparency in Taiwan-US Trade Negotiations

The Civilian Coalition for Monitoring the Taiwan-US Trade Initiative of the 21st Century (CCMTUSTI21C) issued a statement on October 6th, expressing concerns over the lack of transparency in the ongoing negotiations of the "U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade." Despite the completion of the first round of physical meetings in Washington, D.C. from August 14th to 18th, nearly two months have passed without the Taiwanese government organizing a public hearing as mandated by a resolution of the Legislative Yuan's special session in July.

CCMTUSTI21C demands that the Executive Yuan ensure public participation and respect the role of the legislature by promptly conducting a regulatory inventory and assessing the impact on industries. It calls for the convening of public hearings and stakeholder communication meetings to solicit opinions from various sectors before finalizing any trade agreement. The coalition emphasizes the importance of avoiding the secretive approach that characterized the first phase of negotiations.

The second phase negotiations cover issues such as agriculture, labor, and the environment, aligning with the majority of demands previously raised by CCMTUSTI21C to both the Taiwanese and American governments. Of particular concern are labor rights violations in Taiwan, as highlighted by the U.S. Department of Labor's inclusion of Taiwanese seafood products in lists of goods produced by child or forced labor. Moreover, international organizations like the Union Network International (UNI) have expressed solidarity with Taiwan's labor rights activists, urging President Tsai Ing-wen to engage in transparent dialogue with unions and civil society organizations.

The coalition has engaged with political parties in the Legislative Yuan, including the Democratic Progressive Party, Kuomintang, Taiwan People's Party, and New Power Party, all of which have agreed on the need for public hearings. With bipartisan consensus in the legislature, the Executive Yuan should provide comprehensive explanations on the progress of negotiations under the TECRO-AIT Trade Agreement to facilitate meaningful participation from civil society and lawmakers.

In contrast to Taiwan's opaque approach, the United States has a long-established framework for citizen participation in trade negotiations, including advisory committees and legislative oversight mechanisms. Recent legislation passed by the U.S. Congress reinforces the requirement for transparency and congressional approval in trade agreements. CCMTUSTI21C urges the Taiwanese government to adopt similar practices and ensure transparency and stakeholder engagement throughout the negotiation process.

In conclusion, CCMTUSTI21C reiterates its call for transparency and urges the Executive Yuan to immediately convene public hearings as mandated by legislative resolutions. Transparency and stakeholder engagement are essential for building public trust and ensuring that any trade agreements serve the interests of all stakeholders.

Media Contacts:

Deputy Secretary-General, Taiwan Federation of Financial Unions, Yu-Hsuan Chou, 0920133712

Advisor, Taiwan Dispatched Workers Union, Chung-Jui Cheng, 0963042532

〔Photo by EXECUTIVE YUAN, TAIWAN / unslapsh william william 〕