Mon, May 20, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Talks edge closer to deal

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and New Zealand are closing in on a free-trade deal, with substantive talks possibly being completed next month, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Friday.

“We are working hard and there’s a chance” substantive talks can be completed in the first half of the year,” a ministry official said.

The official’s comments on the potential deal with New Zealand came the same day that Taiwan and Singapore announced that they had wrapped up negotiations on a free-trade pact.

The two countries said the final stage of legally vetting the pact, called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), is set to begin soon.

Taiwan and New Zealand began substantive talks on an economic cooperation agreement in May last year, and were originally scheduled to conclude their talks next year.

However, Taiwan decided to accelerate the pace of the negotiations with New Zealand to avoid becoming regionally marginalized, as negotiations on a planned Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) started earlier this month.

The RCEP will consist of the 10 ASEAN member states plus Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and South Korea.

Both Singapore and New Zealand are also members of the US-led multinational Trans-Pacific Partnership that is currently being negotiated.

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