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WASHINGTON: The United States and Taiwan announced on Wednesday objectives for trade negotiations set for the early autumn in another step to boost ties even as tensions soar with China over the island.

The negotiations would cover a variety of areas, including agriculture, digital trade, good regulatory practices and removing trade barriers, the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement.

The negotiations “will deepen our trade and investment relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses,” said Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi.

“We plan to pursue an ambitious schedule for achieving high-standard commitments and meaningful outcomes covering the eleven trade areas in the negotiating mandate that will help build a fairer, more prosperous and resilient 21st century economy.”

The talks, dubbed the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, were unveiled on June 1.

In recent weeks, tensions in the Taiwan Strait have soared to their highest in decades following a trip to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The visit sparked a furious response from Beijing, which launched its largest-ever military drills around the island.

China announces fresh military drills around Taiwan

Washington diplomatically recognises Beijing over Taipei, but it maintains de facto relations with Taiwan.

The United States and Taiwan share a longstanding trade and investment relationship. Taiwan is also a crucial global supplier of some of the most advanced semiconductors used in everything from mobile phones and laptops to cars and missiles.

“Excited that we are taking a big step forward in opening a new chapter in our trade partnership,” Taiwan’s representative in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, tweeted Friday.

“We welcome this announcement, and Taiwan’s ready to start!” Taiwan’s largest trading partner by far remains China.

Last year some 42 percent of Taiwan’s exports went to China and Hong Kong compared to 15 percent for the United States.

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