Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan scrambles to offset impact of regional trade pact

Staff writer, with CNA

The government is working to reduce the possible economic impact of a proposed free-trade agreement among China, Japan and South Korea, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) said yesterday.

Liang said the ministry would speed up follow-up negotiations under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed between Taiwan and China in 2010. The negotiations are expected to be completed by the end of next year, he said.

Meanwhile, the talks between China, South Korea and Japan would be slowed down by some issues, especially agricultural, he said.

“The bilateral negotiations between China and South Korea will proceed faster than the trilateral talks, but the ECFA follow-up will be completed sooner,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea agreed at a trilateral summit on May 13 to start negotiations this year on a free-trade accord.

The economic bloc will be the third largest in the world, accounting for US$12.34 trillion, or 20 percent, of the world’s total GDP.

If Taiwan fails to complete its ECFA follow-up negotiations before the proposed trilateral FTA takes effect, Taiwan’s GDP would be reduced by US$4.5 billion, or 1.49 percent of its estimated total GDP, according to a survey by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.

Its import and export trade would also shrink by 3 to 4 percentage points, resulting in a decrease of US$15.9 billion in total output value, the survey showed.

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