Friday, April 9, 2010

Negotiations on FTA-like agreement with China closes in Taipei

The second round of official negotiations on the ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement), a FTA-like agreement, between Taipei and Beijing drew to a close on April 1. After a day and a half of discussions in Taoyuan, not far from Taipei, China agreed not to export agricultural products or allow laborers to the island. The two sides will also work to ensure that Taiwan’s less competitive manufacturing and agricultural sectors are not adversely affected by the signing of the ECFA, according to sources familiar with the issues.

When finalizing their early harvest lists, both sides took into consideration the other’s concerns and pressing needs, and selected items that were easier to reach a consensus on, according to the Commercial Times. Petrochemicals, textiles, machinery, automobile manufacturing, components and parts, among others, were suggested by Taiwan to be included in the final lists.

Huang Chih-peng, Taiwan’s chief negotiator and director-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs Bureau of Foreign Trade, pointed out that Taipei and Beijing have reached a high degree of consensus on the items to be included, though the final details will still require some fine-tuning. Despite this, he said, “the time is not ripe to make an official announcement.” Several items on Taiwan’s proposed list include sectors that the mainland regards as important or key developing industries, and towards which they currently feel they are in a disadvantageous position.

In considering the opposition party’s objections on the ECFA, President Ma Ying-jeou and the Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen have agreed to face off in a debate on April 25. “Through the debate, the government will help the public better understand the planned ECFA,” Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang stated. For her part, Tsai said, “The ruling and opposition parties each have their own responsibilities” regarding controversial ECFA issues. The DPP has voiced strong opposition to the inking of such a pact.

During a videoconference hosted by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University on April 6, President Ma delivered a speech in which he reiterated the necessity of signing an ECFA with China, emphasizing that the agreement would spearhead Taiwan’s return to economic integration in the Asian-Pacific region and enhance the island’s competitive edge in the global market.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.