The United States and Taiwan signed a Statement of Intent at the US-Taiwan Cybersecurity Forum on May 24 to increase cybersecurity cooperation. Marcus Jadotte, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis, led a trade delegation from American technology companies including Cisco, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon. The Taipei Computer Association (TCA), a private sector industrial organization dedicated to promoting Taiwan’s information communication technology (ICT) sector, signed the statement on behalf of the island. The statement lays the groundwork for sharing market research and best practices in cybersecurity.
Both parties expressed the idea that reducing risks related to cybersecurity is crucial to maintaining their robust trade. Since Taiwan is the United States’ ninth largest trading partner, increased cybersecurity cooperation will encourage growth in bilateral trade and investment. The partnership between the Commerce Department and some of the largest American technology companies also demonstrates the government’s commitment to strengthening the two markets’ relationship.
Although cybersecurity is relevant in most industries, it can be most closely tied to the ICT sector. Cooperation in ICT between the US and Taiwan has grown more than with most other Asian nations. The balance in electronics trade rose 49% with Taiwan between 2005 and 2015. US-Taiwan electronics trade balance surpassed Korea’s 29% increase and is second only to China electronics trade growth.
This surge in hardware trade has prompted increased dialogue about the future of ICT trade between the US and Taiwan. In December 2013, the US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council developed a set of trade principles specific to ICT adopted by the US Trade Representative (USTR). Japan is the only other Asian country with which the US has developed bilateral ICT-specific trade principles. Later on, in December 2015, the US and Taiwan held their first bilateral Digital Economy Forum, during which cooperation in the ICT sector was at the top of the agenda. The week after TCA signed the Statement of Intent with the US delegation, TCA co-hosted Computex, Asia’s largest annual ICT fair, which featured 25 American exhibitors including Intel, the world’s largest chip manufacturer.
The last few years have witnessed the development of a strong US-Taiwan relationship in the ICT sector, and the latest US-Taiwan Cybersecurity Forum confirms that Taiwan will be an important partner in ICT and in the fight against cybercrime. Thus, in US states with fast-growing technology industries like Minnesota, Utah, and Nebraska, Taiwan’s rapidly growing ICT industry will be an important market for state-level trade relations.
Andrea Moneton is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.