Taiwan and the Philippines will conduct separate feasibility studies on a proposed bilateral economic partnership agreement, an official from the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中華經濟研究院) said yesterday.
Kristy Hsu (徐遵慈), an associate research fellow at CIER, confirmed that CIER’s WTO Center in Taiwan would commence the study soon.
Meanwhile, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office has reportedly signed a contract with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies to carry out an assessment of the proposed pact.
Hsu said the CIER is also in charge of conducting feasibility studies on economic agreements with India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Since Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China in June 2010, the nation has been looking to sing free-trade agreements (FTA) with other nations and has initiated free-trade talks with Singapore and New Zealand.
Taiwan has also started talks with South Korea on a bilateral investment protection agreement, after the two countries held the first round of talks on the issue in Taipei late last month and are scheduled to hold a second round of talks in Seoul later this year.
On Saturday, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said finding entry points into the process of regional economic integration may be a big challenge for Taiwan, but it is necessary.
“Seeing our major trade rivals actively engaged in economic negotiations with their trade partners really worries us,” Shih said at a seminar held to discuss the impact of trade and investment liberalization measures. “It is now a game of either participating or being excluded.”
South Korea has FTAs with 45 countries, which account for 35.3 percent of its total trade volume, while Japan has FTAs with 15 countries that absorb 17.6 percent of its total trade, Shih said, citing a survey by Global Trade Atlas Navigator.
‧ South Korea: 45 FTAs, 35.3 percent of trade
‧ Singapore: 33 FTAs, 70 percent of trade
‧ Japan: 15 FTAs, 17.6 percent of trade
‧ Taiwan: 5 FTAs and ECFA, 4.38 percent of trade
Singapore has recorded more than 70 percent of its total trade volume coming from its FTAs with 33 countries, he said.
So far, Taiwan has only forged FTAs with five Central American countries and the ECFA with China. The trade volume of the five FTAs and that of the ECFA’s tariff-free “early harvest” program account for 4.38 percent of Taiwan’s total trade, Shih said.
“We are under great pressure, and we know that we need to make huge improvements,” he said.