Hillary Clinton meets Taiwan's APEC representative Lien Chan on Sept. 8. (Photo/CNA)
A senior US economics official will visit Taiwan next week to discuss bilateral economic ties, the American Institute in Taiwan said in a statement released Thursday.
Atul Keshap, US representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and Coordinator for Economic Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is scheduled to meet with Taiwanese government officials to discuss economic matters during his Sept. 23-25 visit, the institute said.
He will also deliver an economic policy speech on Sept. 25 in Taipei, according to the statement.
Asked whether Keshap's visit is related to re-opening long-stalled Taiwan-US talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, institute spokesman Mark Zimmer said "there's no specific link at this time."
The official's visit to Taiwan is for general economic discussions, he added.
The announcement of Keshap's visit came after a Sept. 9 meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Taiwan's representative to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, Lien Chan.
During that meeting, Clinton said she would send Keshap to Taiwan to consult on further broadening bilateral economic relations.
In response, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Keshap's visit, which it said would help advance bilateral cooperation in trade and commerce.
Taiwan is hopeful that the trade and investment talks can be resumed in the near future since it recently began allowing imports of US beef containing traces of the controversial leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
Washington regarded Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has implied in the past that a resumption of the talks rested on the beef issue.
The agreement was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of official diplomatic ties, but talks have been suspended since 2007, mainly because of the beef dispute.
Keshap is a career US Foreign Service officer who coordinates US economic and trade diplomacy toward the 21 APEC member economies. His previous assignments include director of the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, as well as deputy minister counselor for political affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi.