The Indian government has turned down Taiwan’s request to take a further step in advancing an economic cooperation agreement for the time being as it focuses on joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
“We made our official request about signing an agreement during an annual vice-ministerial meeting, but the Indian officials told us that they do not have enough time and staff to handle it at the moment,” Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-General David Hsu (徐大衛) told a news conference after the meeting.
An economic cooperation agreement would be similar to a free-trade agreement with India, in that it is intended to lower or remove bilateral tariffs and other trade barriers.
Hsu said that New Delhi’s response to Taiwan’s request was not influenced by Beijing, and that neither Taiwan nor India mentioned China during the annual meeting.
A ministry official who declined to be named told reporters that it would take time to see significant breakthroughs in trade negotiations with India.
The meeting was held by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) and Indian Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Amitabh Kant, Hsu said.
Hsu said the Indian delegation encouraged Taiwanese small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in such Indian business sectors as food processing, information communication technology, solar energy and machine tools.
“However, the Indian government declined our request that it offer Taiwanese businesses a preferable tax code. They said the biggest incentive they could offer is India’s large domestic market and relatively cheap material and labor costs,” Hsu said.
Based on the Investment Commission’s data, there are more than 70 Taiwanese-owned companies in India. The investments are primarily in food processing, shoes, computers, electronics, petrochemicals, machine tools, automobile components, logistics and finance, Hsu said.
The next vice-ministerial meeting will be held in New Delhi in September, he said.
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