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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The U.S. and Taiwan are stepping up cooperation in a newly created economic dialogue, in another move from the outgoing Trump administration to increase official exchanges with the self-ruled island.

The two sides signed a five-year agreement establishing the U.S.-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, which is meant to be held annually.

The deal falls short of a long-desired bilateral trade agreement, but is a significant step that increases ties between Washington and Taipei.

China, which views Taiwan as its own territory to be reunited by force if necessary, has criticized such steps as provocation.

“The U.S.-Taiwan economic dialogue signifies that not only is the United States-Taiwan economic relationship strong, but it continues to deepen and grow,” said Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taipei, the de-facto embassy.

Taiwan and the U.S. do not have a free trade agreement. However, Taiwan in August announced the easing of restrictions on imports of American beef and pork, lowering a trade barrier for U.S. businesses that is expected to pave the way for further trade negotiations.

U.S. trade with Taiwan totaled an estimated $103.9 billion in 2019, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

The dialogue addressed areas of further cooperation, such as the State Department’s new Clean Network project and 5G security, semiconductors, as well as investment screening and science and technology.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu called the dialogue an “important milestone” and “the highest level regular economic dialogue between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

“The most important substance is for Taiwan and the U.S. to identify those specific areas for us to work on together and for us to make more concrete progress and to make concrete cooperation,” he said.

The talks Friday were held partly in person in Washington, led by U.S. Undersecretary of State Keith Krach and Taiwanese minister without portfolio John Deng, with attendants from the American Institute in Taipei and the Taiwan government also joining in virtually.

Krach is one of two senior White House officials to visit Taiwan this year, a month after Health Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-level U.S. Cabinet official to hold talks in Taipei since the U.S. switched formal relations from Taiwan to China in 1979.

China responded with a show of force, flying multiple fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait toward the island during both visits.

The U.S. has also started selling more advanced weaponry to Taiwan under the Trump administration, including a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon missile systems announced in October.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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U.S. stock futures rise after Wall Street wraps up historically strong month

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 4th. 2020.NYSE

U.S. stock futures rose on Monday night after the major averages notched sharp monthly gains for November.

The Dow rallied 11.8% in November, posting its best one-month performance since January 1987. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 10.8% and 11.8%, respectively, for their strongest monthly advances since April.

November's rally came amid a slew of positive coronavirus vaccine news, which lifted hope of a strong economic recovery and sparked a surge in beaten-down value names. The iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) rallied 13.4% for the month, and outpaced its growth counterpart, the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) by 3 more than percentage points.

"Vaccine news has further buoyed spirits with several therapeutic/preventative lights now at the end of the pandemic tunnel being another set of positive data points," wrote Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citi. However, he added investors may be getting too complacent about the risks the market still faces.

At this point, the market is either "anticipating an even stronger 2021 profits outlook possibly tied to rapid inoculation-driven recovery and continued corporate cost containment, or the S&P 500 may be ahead of itself in the near term, particularly when considering no new short-term fiscal stimulus and the impact of second wave outbreaks," Levkovich said.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 13 million Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. along with over 266,000 deaths. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was implementing emergency hospital measures as cases continue to rise.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called the U.S. economic outlook "extraordinarily uncertain."

"The rise in new COVID-19 cases, both here and abroad, is concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months," Powell said in prepared remarks. "A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities."

Shares of Zoom Video dipped more than 4% in after-hours trading despite the video-conferencing giant reporting better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter. Tesla's stock popped 3.4% after S&P Dow Jones Indices said the electric-car maker will be added to the S&P 500 on Dec. 21 in a single step.

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