Ranking Member Eni Faleomavaega of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific announced today that key Members of Congress are supporting the Obama Administration’s effort to expedite the visa-waiver program for Taiwan. In a letter dated December 12, 2011 to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Members of Congress representing House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means, Homeland Security, Energy and Commerce, the Judiciary, Armed Services, Government Reform, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rules, and Appropriations stated the following:
Dear Madam Secretary:
We are writing to support your efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges between the United States and Taiwan by granting Taiwanese citizens visa-waiver treatment. As Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell testified in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in October, the United States and Taiwan have made substantial progress on VWP negotiations in the past few months, and we are hopeful that Taiwan can be included on the VWP candidate country list in the near future. We are also hopeful that you will be able to expedite this process.
A study predicted that tourism revenue would increase by an estimated $1.8 billion by waiving visa requirements for Taiwanese travelers to the United States. Therefore, visa-waiver treatment will not only benefit Taiwanese travelers, but will also create much needed job opportunities here in the United States.
In 2010, Taiwan was America’s 9th largest trading partner, and we are pleased that President Obama has showed his support for the Ma Administration by sending senior level officials from the Department of Commerce, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), HUD, Energy and USAID. We are especially pleased that the Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Rajiv Shah, recently visited Taiwan, and we welcome the upcoming visit of Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman.
Your leadership and commitment to making these visits possible mark important steps in recent U.S.-Taiwan relations. Taiwan and the United States share the same values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, and we are appreciative of the work President Ma has done to reduce tensions in the Cross Strait given that this is in the best interest of U.S.-Taiwan relations.
We also appreciate all you are doing to advance regional peace and stability, and we look forward to working with you to expedite the visa-waiver program for Taiwan.
“I want to personally thank Congressman Mike Honda, Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Congressman Charles Rangel, Congressman Alcee Hastings, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, Congressman Edolphus Towns, Congressman Hank Johnson, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Donna Christensen, and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa for standing with Taiwan on this important matter,” Faleomavaega said.
“If granted, visa-waiver treatment will be a strong indication of how much we value our relationship with Taiwan, which was America’s 9th largest trading partner in 2010. As we noted in our letter, visa-waiver treatment is not only good for Taiwan but it is also good for America, with tourism revenue increasing by an estimated $1.8 billion, according to one study. This means much needed job opportunities here in the United States, and this is why I am proud to stand with the Obama and Ma Administrations on this historic initiative.”
“I especially thank President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the good work they are doing in advancing regional peace and stability, and in promoting people-to-people exchanges between the United States and Taiwan by granting Taiwanese citizens visa-waiver treatment, and I will continue to support their efforts which I believe are in the best interest of the United States,” Faleomavaega concluded.