Taiwan and the US have agreed to begin negotiations on cooperation in the area of e-commerce, a development that can be seen as a precursor to the resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Minister without Portfolio Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Taiwan and the US signed the TIFA in September 1994, but Washington has suspended bilateral talks under this framework several times since 1998.
The e-commerce cooperation negotiations between the two countries are likely to serve as stepping-stone to TIFA talks, Yiin said.
Since Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China, it has been stepping up efforts to forge free-trade agreements (FTA) with other countries, Yiin said.
Earlier this month, it reached an agreement with Singapore to explore the possibility of signing an economic cooperation agreement.
At the APEC ministerial meetings, Taiwan’s proposal to start FTA talks with other countries has been warmly received, Yiin said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan and China have agreed to start negotiations on agreements on trade in products and services as well as investment and dispute resolution within six months after the ECFA takes effect, he said.
The arrangements for trade in goods and services “should not be too difficult” given that 20 to 30 percent of products in Taiwan and China have already been granted tariff-free treatment under the ECFA and the fact that most information technology products are also eligible for zero tariffs under the WTO framework.
In the area of investment, there is no big difference of opinion between Taiwan and China, he said.
Addressing fears that certain local industries would suffer as a result of the ECFA, Yiin said that the government would stick to its promise to delay further trade liberalization in some areas to give vulnerable industries time to adjust and upgrade.
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