Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan-India free-trade pact study nearing end

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said the feasibility study on a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and India is nearing a conclusion and will be released soon.

Taiwan’s economic policy think-tank, the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研院所), as well as its peer, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, started a joint assessment of a free-trade pact early this year, the ministry said.

Both sides are waiting for the results of the study, which includes evaluating factors, such as the impact on the economy and employment if an FTA were implemented, before deciding when to launch informal FTA negotiations.

The study has progressed faster than expected, especially in light of the prediction by Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary for East Asia at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, in March that it would take one year to complete.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) told reporters yesterday that Taiwan and Indonesia had also recently started a similar feasibility study.

Think tanks from the private sectors are engaged in the assessment, he said, without naming them.

Shih added that the FTA negotiations with Singapore were proceeding smoothly, but declined to elaborate.

The pact — tentatively called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership — is expected to be inked by the middle of next year.

In August last year, Singapore announced its intention to sign an FTA with Taiwan, becoming the first country to do so after Taiwan and China signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in June last year.

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