Taiwan’s President this week requested a reopening of trade talks with the United States saying that his country needs a free trade agreement (FTA) similar to that of South Korea’s FTA with the United States. President Ma Ying-jeou said Taiwan was in danger of losing out to Korea financially if an agreement was not reached soon.  “After the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States took effect, Taiwan’s exports to the United States may fall by up to $3 billion,” Ma warned.  “Also foreign investors may prefer to invest in South Korea and subsequently Taiwan may be marginalized,” he said in a statement released by the Kuomintang party.

A free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea took effect last week, sparking concerns in the trade-reliant island that the pact would pit Taiwanese companies unfavorably against their South Korean counterparts on the U.S. market.  Negotiations between the United States and Taiwan on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, often a precursor to a full-fledged FTA, have been dormant since 2007, over a dispute involving imports of U.S. beef.  In order to facilitate the talks, Ma’s administration had said it plans to lift the ban, sparking severe protests from activists and the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party.