Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, since World War II, the United States and the Republic of China, commonly referred to as Taiwan, have shared a close friendship. I'm pleased to recognize the upcoming National Day of the Republic of China on October 10, 2013.
Taiwan is a shining example of democracy in the Asia Pacific region and promotes shared values with the United States, including respect for human rights, a market-based economy, and freedom. Taiwan is a very important trading partner and our economies are closely linked. Last year, Taiwan was our eleventh largest trading partner overall, was our seventh largest agricultural export market, and shared more than 63 billion dollars in bilateral trade.
Taiwan's economy is a dynamic force in the Asia Pacific region and it is in both of our interests to continue strengthening our trade and investment ties. We should continue to expand trade through a Bilateral Investment Agreement, a Free Trade Agreement, and an expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Taiwan is a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and if admitted to the TPP, a great U.S. ally such as Taiwan would be an even more important economic player.
Taiwan has recognized that joining the TPP would be the best way to diversify its market and improve competitiveness in the region. I encourage my colleagues to support Taiwan's inclusion into TPP, which would further strengthen U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment dialogues and would likely increase other TPP member countries' willingness in engaging Taiwan in vigorous and ambitious trade negotiations. The United States should actively seek ways with its TPP member nations to include Taiwan in the partnership, allowing Taiwan to play an even more important role in the regional economic integration in the years to come.
Finally, I encourage more high-level diplomatic visits between our two countries to increase bilateral interaction on matters such as security, trade, investment, cultural exchange, and education. Just as our economic partnership continues to improve, Taiwan is one of our most valuable allies and is a nation we can truly depend on. That is why I introduced the Taiwan Policy Act with my colleagues, the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Representatives MARIO DIAZ-BALART, ALBIO SIRES, JOHN CARTER, and GERALD CONNOLLY, to strengthen our political, security, economic, and trade relations. I was proud to see this legislation pass in the Foreign Affairs Committee in August and am looking forward to its swift passage here in the House soon.
I wish a very happy Double Ten Day to the people of Taiwan. While we are already close partners, it is my firm belief that our best days are still ahead.