Since the early-harvest list for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) took effect on Jan. 1, about 1,500 product origin certificates have been issued, mostly in the petrochemical sector, the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) said.
To enjoy reduced tariffs before exporting goods to China, Taiwanese companies are required to file applications via the bureau to obtain the certificates needed to prove that their goods originate in Taiwan.
Likewise, Chinese firms must apply for the certificates with Chinese authorities before exporting to Taiwan.
The process is similar to the product origin certificates that Taiwanese enterprises are currently required to obtain if they want to export to Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, all of which have free-trade agreements with Taiwan.
The bureau issued nearly 1,500 product origin certificates last month, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported yesterday, citing bureau officials.
The majority of applicants are from the petrochemical and machinery sectors, while some are from the agriculture and textile sectors, the bureau said.
Bureau of Foreign Trade -Director-General Bill Cho (卓士昭) said last month the certificate applications would normally take one day to process.
However, he said quite a number of applications had been rejected for technical reasons, such as a failure to submit supplementary documents or forms that were filled out incorrectly — which he said was a common problem because the ECFA certificate process is new to applicants.
Cho also said that bureau is holding multiple road shows across northern, central and southern parts of the nation to boost awareness of ECFA’s product origin certificates.
There is also a service section available on the ECFA’s Web site (www.ecfa.org.tw) for companies to seek help with the certificate application process, he said.
CNA also reported that the bureau has received feedback from some enterprises that hoped the certification would be extended to Taiwanese firms registered in the Cayman Islands.
However, the bureau said this request could not be fulfilled because the ECFA only covers companies registered in Taiwan or in China.
Under early-harvest provisions, China has agreed to gradually lower tariffs on 539 categories of imports from Taiwan, with an -estimated value of US$13.8 billion a year. Beijing also agreed to open 11 service categories and 18 farming and fishery categories to tariff reductions.
Chinese exporters will get a reciprocal deal on 267 items, with an estimated value of US$2.9 billion annually.
The government said the ECFA would help create 260,000 jobs in Taiwan and boost economic growth by as much as 1.7 percent, adding that the ECFA was crucial to ensure Taiwan was not marginalized following the creation of ASEAN Plus Three (ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea).