Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Canada to review preferential tariff program: ministry

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

The Canadian government is carrying out a comprehensive review of its Generalised Preferential Tariff (GPT) program, which could level the playing field for Taipei in bilateral trade if some of Taiwan’s major export rivals in Asia are taken off the list of beneficiary countries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said recently.

The ministry said that South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia may be removed from the GPT program, while the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are likely to stay on the list.

The ministry said it believed that changes made to the program could positively impact local businesses doing trade with Canada, adding that Ottawa is currently soliciting views from the Canadian public on the matter and will release a finalized list by July next year.

“Since 2003, the government and local industries have repeatedly asked the Canadian government to modify its GPT program,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) told the Taipei Times by telephone earlier this month.

In addition, given that some of the countries in the program have advanced economically, Canada is also considering making countries classified by the World Bank for two straight years as high or upper-middle income economies, or those that have a 1 percent share of global exports for two consecutive years ineligible for the GPT, Liang said.

Under the program, 175 developing countries enjoy preferential access to the Canadian market and beneficial tariff treatment.

Since Taiwan is not on the list of beneficiary countries, Liang said local companies have been struggling against unfair competition since the program’s implementation in 1974.

Canada is Taiwan’s 25th-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching US$3.46 billion during the first 10 months of last year, down 9.19 percent from US$3.81 billion in the same period of 2011, customs data show.

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