Taiwan will soon sign a comprehensive economic agreement with New Zealand that will include coverage of investment, trade in goods and services, movement of people, air transport and indigenous cooperation, sources in the legislature said yesterday.
Minister of Economic Chang Chia-juh (張家祝) and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀) yesterday briefed Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and caucus whips on the contents of the agreement at a closed-door meeting.
The pact was scheduled to be signed tomorrow in Wellington by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office representative Elliot Charng (常以立) and New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei Director Stephen Payton, according to a report in the Chinese-language Economic Daily News.
Chang declined to confirm the signing, telling reporters that the date “was not yet finalized.”
However, several lawmakers, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they were given clues at the briefing that the agreement could be signed tomorrow.
“Without specify the signing date, he [Chang] was concerned that media disclosure of the date could derail the agreement,” a lawmaker said.
The pact is named the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC). The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu is the name under which the nation was admitted to the WTO in 2002.
According to the briefing, when the 12-year tariff elimination period ends and the ANZTEC is fully implemented, Taiwan is expected to see its exports to New Zealand rise by US$624 million and imports from New Zealand increase by US$606 million, while Taiwan’s GDP will increase by US$303 million.
Lawmakers were told that the ANZTEC will have an impact on the nation’s agriculture and animal husbandry industry, measured as a decrease of 0.29 percentage points, or NT$3.5billion (US$116.14million), in terms of overall production value of agricultural products, while there will be an increase of 0.19 percentage points in manufacturing sector, and 0.06 percentage points in service sector.
The nation’s overall economy will benefit, with its total value of production expected to increase by US$605 million, while 6,256 jobs will be created, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Taipei Times.
In the report, the Ministry of Economic Affairs noted that information about impact of the ANZTEC on the country should not be released before tomorrow.
Sources said that the pact would be a high-quality, comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, under which, in addition to commitments to phase out tariffs and other trade barriers between the two countries for the covered sectors over a 12-year transitional period, the agreement included innovative provisions on education, film and TV-cooperation, indigenous cooperation and air transport.
New Zealand investors will be allowed to set up two schools in Taiwan, with their pupils restricted to foreigners only, the sources said, adding that the ANZTEC would incorporate an open-skies agreement to lift restrictions on the number of carriers that can offer scheduled passenger services between the two countries.
The briefing was organized on Friday last week, with Wang sending an invite the caucus whips to attend.
It was the first time lawmakers were briefed on the issue since the first round of negotiation on the ANZTEC began on May 28 last year.
If the ANZTEC is signed, it will be the first free-trade deal Taiwan has signed with a developed country and a non-diplomatic ally.