Fri, Dec 16, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan, NZ set to launch joint study of trade pact

FREE TRADE:Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang also said negotiations with Singapore on a trade deal were going well, with talks on some sectors nearly done

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporters

Taiwan moved a step forward yesterday in its attempts to engage regional trading partners after New Zealand agreed to launch a joint study on the feasibility of an Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA).

The New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) in Taipei and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington made an announcement on the joint study decision, which followed the completion of independent studies commissioned in October.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said both sides submitted their independent studies to each other on Nov. 25, and the results showed that an ECA would help expand export markets and benefit consumers of both countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed the progress, saying that it believed both sides would soon enter into negotiations on an ECA because their economic relationships were highly complementary and there was potential for further growth.

The NZCIO said in a press release that the joint study process would involve consultation with businesses in both New Zealand and “Chinese Taipei.”

Taiwan was New Zealand’s 11th-largest export market last year, and New Zealand was Taiwan’s 41st-largest trading partner.

New Zealand’s leading exports to Taiwan include dairy products, beef, fruit, timber and electrical components, while tech products account for more than half of Taiwan’s exports to New Zealand, government statistics showed.

Meanwhile, Taiwan and Singapore began formal talks on a similar trade deal earlier this year after they completed a four-month feasibility study.

Asked by reporters yesterday on the progress of a Taiwan--Singapore deal, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said the negotiations were proceeding smoothly.

He said the Taiwan-Singapore pact was a comprehensive trade deal that involves a number of -sectors such as services and trade, and that negotiations of some sectors were near conclusion.

He declined to speculate as to whether all negotiations would conclude next year and both sides would sign the pact.

In addition to Singapore and New Zealand, Taiwan is working with India and Indonesia on independent feasibility studies for similar agreements, with the Philippines being the next country to follow suit, MOFA Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) said in October.

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