Negotiations between Taiwan and China on a bilateral investment protection pact remain stalled by a failure to reach a consensus on a potential deal’s dispute arbitration mechanism, officials familiar with the issue said yesterday.
Negotiators held talks in Beijing on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 to try to resolve differences on arbitrating trade and investment disputes and clear the way for the signing of the deal, which aims to protect hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese investors in China.
However, it remains uncertain whether the pact will be signed or if a seventh high-level meeting between the top cross-strait negotiators will be held later this month as scheduled.
In a push to get a pact that can be signed later this month, representatives will continue to negotiate this week.
If they fail to reach an understanding, the talks between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) would be put off again, officials said.
The two sides have reached a general agreement on a personal safety protection deal that would require the foundation and families of Taiwanese businesspeople detained in China for suspected involvement in a crime to be informed within 24 hours of the detention.
However, the investment protection deal has been more difficult to achieve.
Taiwan has proposed that disputes between Taiwanese investors and the Chinese government should be arbitrated by agencies such as the International Chamber of Commerce.
However, China wants to treat any disputes as a domestic matter and avoid using international arbitration entities.
Taiwanese officials, who declined to be named, said Taiwan has not ruled out accepting mediation rather than arbitration to resolve disputes, but they said whatever mechanism was adopted had to be enforceable in case local Chinese governments ignore mediation results.
While Wang Yi (王毅), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said last week that the chances of signing a pact were “unquestionably optimistic,” the Taiwanese officials were more reserved, saying whatever was agreed upon during negotiations needed to be signed before it could be considered a real deal.