The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that it couldn’t confirm whether the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) would be signed or discussed during the next round of cross-strait trade talks.
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday also indirectly rejected market speculation that the government would allow several Chinese banks to enter the local market before signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China on financial supervision and market access.
The remarks from the two government agencies came on the heels of a local newspaper report that said the ECFA would be included as a discussion topic during an upcoming meeting between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), in Taichung in mid-December.
The Chinese-language Commercial Times also said that the two sides might ink the financial MOU by the end of this month, adding that this development came shortly after Taiwan barred a visit by Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. AFP reported that the signing was a “reward” for barring the visit, however the original text of the Commercial Times article only noted the close timing of the two events.
The MOEA yesterday said the agenda for the Chiang-Chen meeting would be handled by the Mainland Affairs Council and not the MOEA.
“We have been carrying out non-official communication on the ECFA issue and hope that it will take place at the earliest possible timeframe,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) said.
The newspaper cited Chinese officials as saying that China had agreed to sign the financial pact with Taiwan later this month. FSC chairman Sean Chen (陳冲) said his commission had already reached a consensus with its counterparts including the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission on market supervision, information exchange and confidentiality, as well as financial cooperation — general concepts that are enshrined in most MOUs.
The newspaper also said the Bank of China, one of China’s big four state-owned commercial lenders, would set up a representative office in Taiwan before the MOU was signed.
“Theoretically, their [Chinese banks’] entry will be made possible only if a financial pact or an information exchange mechanism [between both countries’ financial regulators] is in place,” Chen said.
No Chinese banks have filed applications to enter the local market, Chen said.
Any Chinese bank wishing to set up a presence in Taiwan needs to first seek regulatory approval from its home authorities before the commission here can grant its approval. The commission would verify the home regulator’s approval via the supervision or financial information exchange mechanism to be agreed between Taiwan and China, the chairman said.
Chen said that he was unable to provide details on when, where and who would sign the financial MOU since such matters were political and would be decided by cross-strait policymakers.
The MAC, however, said it could neither confirm nor deny the report.
“Our stance is to sign the memorandum of understanding as soon as possible,” said an official with the council, who asked not to be named.
“The government bowed to China’s pressure for partisan and economic benefits, and this shows that the government is weak and incompetent,” said Gary Chiang (江季剛), secretary-general of the pro-independence Guts United Taiwan, which invited Kadeer to visit.
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