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Two cross-strait pacts progressing simultaneously: Chinese official

ROC Central News Agency

2013/10/27 20:02:23

Naning, Guangxi, Oct. 27 (CNA) Taiwan's stalled legislative review of a controversial trade in services pact with China is not expected to affect the progress of a trade in goods agreement that two sides plan to sign later, a top Chinese official in charge of cross-strait affairs said Sunday.

Work on the two agreements has been proceeding simultaneously, Chen Deming, president of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), told CNA at a forum in Naning, Guangxi, on cross-strait cooperation in the areas of economy, technology, culture and education.

The trade in services agreement, signed in June, has given rise to domestic concerns about eroded job and business opportunities once Taiwan opens up its service sector to China. The agreement has not yet been implemented as it has been stalled in the Legislature.

In 2010, Taiwan and China signed an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which provided a framework for negotiations on four bilateral agreements on trade in services, trade in goods, investment protection and settlement of disputes over economic and trade issues.

Taiwan and China are scheduled to sign the trade in goods agreement before the end of this year. Zheng Lizhong, vice president of the ARATS, has suggested that a delay in the implementation of the service trade pact could make it difficult for the two sides to sign the trade in goods agreement on schedule.

Meanwhile, a Chinese ministry of commerce official has indicated that negotiations on the trade in goods agreement have been progressing steadily, with the two sides achieving consensus on several issues after seven rounds of formal talks, the China News Service reported Sunday.

Taiwanese and Chinese negotiators have reached consensus on the range of goods to be included in the agreement, the targets of liberalization to work toward and reductions in tariffs, among other technical issues, Sun Zhaolin, deputy head of Chinese Ministry of Commerce's Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs, was reported as saying at the cross-strait forum.

As for the progress of the dispute settlement agreement, Sun said Taiwan and China have conducted five rounds of negotiations on the deal since March 2011. The next round of talks will take place in Taipei soon, Sun said without giving a specific date.

Moreover, China has begun to pave the way for the implementation of the service trade pact by amending laws and is preparing for the investment protection agreement, according to Sun.

The ninth Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum opened Saturday. The Taiwanese delegation is led by Wu Po-hsiung, an honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) while the Chinese delegation is headed by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The forum, set up in 2005, serves as a regular channel for communication between the KMT and the Communist Party of China. The achievements of the past eight meetings included reaching common ground on direct cross-strait flights and allowing Taiwan universities to recruit Chinese students.

(By Hsiao Pao-hsiang and Scully Hsiao)
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