Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 12 News List

‘National treatment’ clause holds up investment talks

Staff Writer, with CNA

No final arrangements have been made on a high-level cross-strait meeting because three core issues remain unresolved in bilateral talks over an investment protection agreement, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said yesterday.

One of them concerns Taiwan’s multiple restrictions on Chinese investment, Shih said.

Although the WTO does not contain clear regulations on investment, member economies tend to include the so-called “national treatment” provision in their bilateral agreements to allow investors from both sides to enjoy equal treatment, Shih said.

“If the ‘national treatment’ provision is included in the proposed cross-strait investment pact, many of our current restrictions on Chinese investors could be legally challenged or need to be revised,” Shih said.

In order to maintain existing -restrictions or gradually phase them out, Shih said, more time would be needed for negotiations.

This marks the first time that the “national treatment” issue has been cited as a potential major obstacle to cross-strait negotiations.

At present, officials have only discussed differences of opinion regarding the protection of Taiwanese investors in China and the need for a mechanism to resolve disputes.

The seventh meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), chairman of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, was originally scheduled for mid-June.

On Wednesday, SEF Deputy Secretary-General Ma Shaw-chang (馬紹章) said the seventh “Chiang-Chen” meeting could take place next month at the earliest.

However, no timetable has yet been set because of the three issues, Shih said.

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