Cross-strait forum to discuss ECFA

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Dec 11, 2013 - Page 13

A meeting of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee, which coordinates issues related to the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), opened in Taipei yesterday.

The one-day meeting is expected to review the progress made on follow-up issues to ECFA, signed in 2010, and the feasibility of trade groups on both sides setting up exchanging representative offices.

Straits Exchange Foundation Deputy Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) are presiding over the meeting.

One of the issues set to be discussed is the “early harvest” program under the ECFA that took effect in January 2011 and has since eliminated import duties on 539 Taiwanese items exported to China and 267 Chinese items exported to Taiwan.

Taiwanese exporters reportedly saved US$1.26 billion in custom duties as of October this year, showing that the program has achieved some initial results, Koo said before the meeting.

However, the program covered only a fraction of trade in goods and services between the two sides, Koo said, adding that he hoped that a bilateral agreement on service trade, which was signed in June, but has since been stuck in the legislature, could take effect soon.

The two sides should also continue talks on goods trade so more products can be included in the zero-tariff treatment and the gains from the ECFA can be expanded, he said.

On cross-strait industrial cooperation, Koo said that the two sides should establish an “industrial supply chain cooperation mechanism,” under which Taiwanese and Chinese companies swap shares or invest in each other to promote equity cooperation.

Zheng said before the meeting that some of the specific issues to be discussed were e-commerce and product inspections.

He also pushed for the implementation of the service trade pact, describing it as the key to strengthening bilateral economic cooperation at present.