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USTR Releases Proposals From Taiwan Trade Talks, Including Customs Text

The U.S. is pushing for Taiwan to automate its customs process, create a single window for trade and reduce restrictions on e-commerce in talks on the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, according to U.S. negotiating proposals released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative March 16.

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The customs administration and trade facilitation text is one of five released by the USTR from the first round of negotiations with Taiwan, held in Taipei in January (see 2301170003). The other four cover regulatory practices, domestic services regulation, anti-corruption, and small- and medium-sized businesses.

In the customs chapter, the U.S. is proposing to require “online posting of all laws, regulations, and procedures related to the import, export, and transit of goods,” as well as the capability of customs forms to be received electronically. “In addition, pre-arrival information must be processed and assessed for risk through a single window with a view toward immediate release of goods for which all regulatory requirements have been met,” the document says.

“These provisions in the proposed text should reduce time and cost of importing, reduce spoilage especially of perishable goods, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from idling vessels and trucks,” the U.S. proposal said.

Proposed provisions on e-commerce would “reduce restrictions on express consignment shipments and facilitate the return of goods across borders.” The U.S. proposal also includes a requirement to accept electronic payment of duties, taxes and fees.

The proposal also includes penalty rules “designed to ensure transparency and fairness” and “standards of conduct for border agents.” The U.S. is also calling for “enforcement cooperation in order to ensure that the borders are being used for legitimate trade and to facilitate weeding out illicit trade and other customs offenses.”

The U.S. proposal on regulatory practices covers “a range of rules for rule-making across the full regulatory life-cycle at the central level,” including proposed requirements for a regulatory agenda and requirements to publish draft regulations and allow enough time to comment.

The “Services Domestic Regulation” proposal includes “proposed text on development and administration of rules and procedures governing licenses or other authorizations required to supply services,” the document said.

The anti-corruption chapter “includes high anticorruption standards to prevent and combat bribery and other forms of corruption,” the U.S. said. It expands on the USMCA framework with “provisions addressing money laundering, the recovery of proceeds of corruption, denial of entry for foreign public officials, and additional protections for people who report corruption,” the document said. And it “recognizes the importance of preventing and combating bribery and corruption in the context of labor law implementation and enforcement and provides for strong obligations to fight corruption related to abusive practices in the recruitment of migrant workers,” it said.

A fifth proposed chapter on SMEs would establish “provisions promoting online, publicly accessible information resources useful for SMEs trading, investing, or doing business in the United States and Taiwan,” the summary said. “This information would include customs regulations and procedures, technical regulations, foreign investment regulations, business registration procedures, intellectual property rights, and other information.”

“These texts follow through on the two sides’ shared commitment to pursue a high-ambition trade initiative, as outlined in the negotiating mandate that was established in August 2022, in order to strengthen and deepen economic and trade ties,” USTR said in a news release March 16 announcing the release of the summaries (see 2208180042).