Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) A high-level U.S. official said Wednesday that the White House supports Taiwan's efforts to increase its global contributions through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.In opening remarks at a round table dialogue, Sandra Oudkirk, the U.S. senior official for APEC, shared the scope and impact of APEC on regional development.The U.S. still sees Taiwan as an "active and committed partner" in the Indo-Pacific region, even though the two economies are still at odds over some bilateral trade issues, said Oudkirk, who also serves as the U.S. State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands."And I can reiterate the commitment that our leadership is made to continue to support our reliable partner, as it seeks to expand its already significant contributions to global challenges and free and open trade investment," she said.Oudkirk, who worked at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) earlier in her career, said that the U.S. and Taiwan have built a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership that is grounded in shared interests and values over the last four decades.She lauded Taiwan's contributions in institutions and regional fora such as APEC, the Global Cooperation and Training Framework and the Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultations in areas of public health, energy, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, women's empowerment and media literacy."So regionally, Taiwan plays a key role in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. And this is true in terms of economics, security and governance," she said.Meanwhile, asked to comment on Washington's withdrawal from some regional trade arrangements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Oudkirk clarified that the U.S. is still the largest foreign direct investor in Asia and that Washington believes that economic partnership driven by markets and private industry is the way forward to sustainable economic growth and prosperity.According to her, U.S. outbound foreign direct investment more than doubled in the decades from 2000 to 2017 in the Indo-Pacific region, reaching US$940 billion. In 2016, U.S. foreign direct investment in the region supported 5.1 million jobs.The round table dialogue, moderated by Taiwan's Vice President Chen Chien-Jen, was part of the Yushan Forum being held Oct. 8-9 in Taipei.
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Sandra Oudkirk (second right)/Photo courtesy of CNA