Fri, Nov 08, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan, Singapore sign free-trade pact

‘DOMINO EFFECT’:Officials are hoping that the agreement could encourage other nations to ink similar pacts, aiding Taiwan’s goal of joining regional economic bodies

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Both countries also agreed to adopt a “negative list” — as opposed to the “positive list” used in the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services — to provide greater market access to investors from the other country. Under this set-up, the two countries agreed to open all their service sectors, unless specifically excluded by each country in an annex to the agreement.

Taiwan’s negative investment list covers 30 sectors in transportation, telecommunication and professional services, while Singapore has 35 sectors on its list related to healthcare and transportation, among others.

Both countries agreed to go beyond their respective WTO commitments in certain service sectors, including research and development service, general engineering and Type I telecommunications enterprises, while applying their commitments under the WTO to the finance industry under the bilateral agreement.

The agreement is expected to add US$701 million to Taiwan’s GDP over the next 15 years, boosting domestic output by NT$42.1 billion (US$1.43 billion) and creating 6,154 jobs, Chang said, citing a study conducted by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院).

Lin said that aside from signing FTAs with its main trade partners, Taiwan’s ultimate goal is to participate in regional economic integration through agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — both possible pathways to the formation of an Asia-Pacific free-trade area.

“We will contact each member involved in TPP and RCEP negotiations and conclude agreements with them one by one,” Lin said.

Taiwan has completed feasibility studies on signing FTA-like pacts with India and Indonesia. Another one on trade with the Philippines is expected to be completed in the near future, Lin said.

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