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Taiwan and China to Hold Next Trade-in-Goods Talk on March 31

Mar 31, 2015 | By Ken Liu

Taiwan's Deputy Economic Minister S.C. Cho announced that Taiwan and China will hold the 10th round of trade-in-goods talk March 31 through April 2 in Beijing, to primarily focus on market opening and tax concessions on four categories of goods.

Also Taiwan's representatives will use this round of talks to find new clues to how the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between China and South Korea will affect China and benefit South Korea.

Although China, Asia's biggest economy, and South Korea, Taiwan's major trade rival, have signed FTA to have raised concern among industry experts and insiders for potential impact on Taiwan's export competitiveness in China. But it turns out such panic is unwarranted as China  refuses to steeply slash tariffs on South Korea-made liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), machine tools, petrochemicals and automobiles at once, rather simply agrees to reduce the tariffs over a period of time longer than originally expected.

Taiwan and South Korea are said to have redundant exports, being arch-rivals in the abovementioned four sectors.

Cho says that although the China-South Korea FTA does not pose immediate threat to Taiwan's exports to China, it is still imperative for Taiwan to hold the talk with China because, in addition to market opening and tax concession, many non- tariff trade barrier issues such as technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures need to be removed, reiterating that the government will make all-out effort to strive for better terms in the talks than that in the China-South Korea FTA.

However, he concedes that China is worried that any deal concluded in the upcoming talks will likely see history repeat itself. The trade-in-service agreement signed between Taiwan and China, besides being exposed by student protesters about a year ago for being bulldozed through without proper procedure, around one year ago still has not been approved by the Taiwan legislature.

The legislation for overseeing the trade-in-service agreement has been stymied by the opposition Democratic Progress Party (DPP) in the Taiwan legislature, which contravenes many Taiwanese industrialists' views as they have been heard to comment that it is in Taiwan's interest to negotiate with China over the trade-in-goods agreement regardless of legislative approval.

One factor sidelining the smooth signing, legislative approval of such agreement is the apparently chaotic, irrational running of the Taiwan legislature that is frequently televised, where procedures are not followed and lawmakers behave more like romper room tots than elected officials.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) looks to the legislature to complete approval of the  oversight stature as soon as possible to facilitate bilateral talks related to trade of goods and services.

MOEA officials say the ministry will send senior officials to visit all party caucuses of the legislature to brief them on the schedule and venue of the upcoming talks. The MOEA will announce its assessment of the impact the China-South Korea FTA could have on Taiwan's industry in the week of March 30.

Taiwan's delegation in the negotiations will be headed by Yang Jen-ni, director of the MOEA's Bureau of Foreign Trade, while Chen Xing, director of the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau division of the Ministry of Commerce, has not been named to remain as China's top negotiator.
(KL)



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