WASHINGTON – The United States continues its strong commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and seeks to resolve “trade irritants” affecting U.S. companies and investments in Taiwan, the head of the American Institute in Taiwan says.

Institute Chairman James Moriarty told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday that the U.S. and Taiwan have a “mutually beneficial partnership grounded in our shared interests and values.”

“We maintain close economic, security and people-to-people ties, and share a mutual respect for democracy and human rights,” he said.

Moriarty echoed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which states that America will maintain “commercial, cultural, and other relations” with the people of Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan was created under the TRA as a way for the U.S. government to create programs and maintain relations with Taiwan.

“Simply put, the TRA highlights the closeness of our relationship with Taiwan by identifying Taiwan’s security as a political, economic and security interest of the United States,” the former U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh and Nepal said.

Consistent with the TRA and the United States’ “one China” policy, the United States continues to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons, services and consultation, he said. “The U.S. enduring interest in peace and security undergirds the U.S. policy of providing Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and maintaining our own capability to respond to coercion.”

Economically, the United States is Taiwan’s second largest goods trading partner, and Taiwan is the United States’ 10th largest trading partner, he said. Culturally, Taiwan is the seventh largest source of international students in the United States, sending over 21,000 students to the United States last year. Taiwan also is included in the 2012 visa waver program, he noted.

By working through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to address market barrier issues facing U.S. investors and companies, Taiwan and America can further strengthen their relationship, he said. “I firmly believe there is no time better than now for us to resolve our outstanding trade issues.”

The United States continues to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not required and its participation in international efforts requiring statehood, Moriarty said.

“As a reliable partner, a force for good in the world and a democratic success story, Taiwan continues to merit our support,” he said.

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