Taiwan-U.S. Trade Talks Remain Deadlocked
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ United States and Taiwanese officials have ended eight days of talks without an agreement on opening Taiwan’s markets further to imports of U.S. cigarettes, wine and beer, officials reported Tuesday.
″We will schedule another meeting with the United States to narrow our differences, which have centered mainly on the pricing and advertising of the U.S. products,″ Vincent Siew, director general of Taiwan’s Board of Foreign Trade, told a news conference.
Siew also said negotiators were close to an agreement on the labeling, import procedure and retail network for the products.
The negotiations that ended Monday were the third round of such talks since Taiwan committed itself last October to further open its markets to U.S. cigarettes, wine and beer within a year.
Siew did not say when or where the next meeting would be.
The U.S. delegation, headed by Sandra Christoff, an official of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, had considered Taiwan’s proposal for a new 185 percent sales tax to be too high for those U.S. products to be competitive with domestic brands.
U.S. negotiators also had demanded advertisements of the imports on radio, television, newspapers and magazines.
Taiwan now imposes sales taxes of between 200 percent and 300 percent on imported cigarettes. With these taxes, a pack of U.S. cigarettes sells for between 50 and 60 Taiwan dollars, about $1.35 and $1.62 (U.S.) at current exchange. Domestic brands sell for 20 to 35 Taiwan dollars, about 54 to 95 cents (U.S.).
Last year, Taiwan imported about 500 million Taiwan dollars, about $13.5 million (U.S.) worth of American cigarettes and a small amount of U.S. wine, but no beer.
Taiwan’s government Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau, which controls the sale of cigarettes and wine, sold about 30 billion Taiwan dollars, about $810 million (U.S.), worth of cigarettes here last year. Bureau officials estimated the United States might take a quarter of Taiwan’s cigarette market under the new pricing system proposed by Taiwan.
Siew said the U.S. delegates had accepted Taiwan’s proposals for limiting the distribution of the U.S. products to 60,000 retail stores across the island and having each pack of U.S. cigarettes carry a warning in Chinese that ″too much smoking is hazardous to your health.″