Cross-strait goods trade pact 'very beneficial'

Cross-strait goods trade pact 'very beneficial'
China President Xi Jinping (R) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (L).
PHOTO: The Straits Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A well-written agreement on cross-strait trade in goods will bring greater benefits than the free-trade agreement between China and South Korea, the Economics Ministry said yesterday.

The latest - and 12th - round of talks on the cross-strait trade pact will take place this weekend. The negotiation process is allegedly being hastened as cross-strait relations warm in the wake of the Ma-Xi meeting in Singapore.

Beijing will reportedly send the largest delegation ever seen to the negotiation table. Taipei is positive about the development, expecting it will expedite the negotiation progress.

The trade agreement is to scale up the nation's economic growth, and its efficacy is one percentage point higher than the FTA inked between mainland China and South Korea, a government official said.

Among the subjects to be discussed in the weekend meeting will be market entry, customs procedure, food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers of trade, tariff reduction and product specific rules.

Mainland China's negotiation team will be headed by Sun Tong, director general of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macao Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.

On Taiwan's side, Jenni Yang, director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, and Wu Ming-ji, director-general of the Department of Industrial Technology at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, will lead the talks.

The government hopes the conflict resolution mechanism will be part of the agenda too.

The government has set the goal of finalizing the pact by the end of the year. If the weekend talks turn out to be inconclusive, there will be task forces to continue the talks.

Trade-in-Goods Agreement to Enhance ECFA's Impact

The Economics Ministry issued a press release yesterday, stating that the trade-in-goods agreement will further the impact of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

Signed in 2010, ECFA aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between China and Taiwan. Since then, exports in the Early Harvest Program grew an average 8.24 per cent, much higher than the 1.75-per cent growth recorded for all exports.

The Early Harvest Program grants tariff reduction on some Taiwanese products, and therefore early access to the mainland Chinese market prior to the ECFA's full implementation.

The Early Harvest Program currently accounts for just 7 per cent of Taiwan's total exports to China. The trade-in-goods pact will increase the share and therefore realise the ECFA's full impact, the Economics Ministry said.

Wu Chung-shu, president of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, said Taiwan stands to gain and not lose from the trade-in-goods negotiation.

Beijing wields much impact on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The cross-strait pact will help Taiwan to integrate into the regional economy and boost growth, Wu said.

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