Stalled China-Taiwan Trade Talks to be Resumed by End of Month
Despite heated dispute over the cross-strait services treaty signed in June of last year, Taiwanese officials announced on Tuesday that talks with China on further within the bilateral economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) would be resumed by the end of the month.
The announcement, made by Taiwan’s Vice Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao following the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee’s bi-annual meeting in Beijing, comes at a time when export-dependent Taiwan is growing increasingly uneasy at the prospect of China’s impending FTA with economic rival South Korea.
As a result, the ROC is keen to speed up negotiations with mainland China, with the first round of talks to be held at the end of the month, said representatives from the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) which oversees the talks.
The signing of the ECFA in 2010 was widely considered to be the first significant step towards trade liberalization following five decades of strained relations between China and Taiwan.
The agreement’s “early harvest” of tariff concessions (all listed items reduced to zero) totalled 539 Taiwanese and 267 Chinese products. Despite some concerns on the part of Taiwan regarding sovereignty issues and a potential influx of Chinese white-collar workers, ECFA’s terms were of clear economic advantage to Taiwan, worth US$13.8 billion compared to China’s US$2.8 billion.
But now Taiwan is keen for an ECFA upgrade, not just out of fear of South Korean competition (both countries rate China as their top trading partner), but also in promotion of Taiwan’s regional economic integration efforts including its bid for accession to the U.S. led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
As scheduled, the talks will include government officials from both sides. Analysts are predicting a wide-ranging free trade pact that could affect up to 85 percent of traded goods
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