Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 3 News List

SEF waiting for approval to negotiate agenda items

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said yesterday that the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) had so far authorized the foundation to negotiate only one issue listed on the agenda for a third round of cross-strait talks.

Chiang said the MAC had authorized negotiations on joint efforts to combat crime, but that several other items were on the planned agenda.

The other issues are establishing a cooperative mechanism for banking supervision; cross-strait securities and futures market supervision; financial transactions; currency exchanges; double taxation; investment protection; and quarantine and inspection of agricultural products.

Although the MAC had agreed to let the SEF negotiate on combating crime, the council had yet to specify the content of the negotiations or approve a team of negotiators, Chiang said.

Setting a date for the third round of talks required both sides to first reach a consensus on the agenda, Chiang said, adding that he hoped the negotiations would take place in the first half of the year.

China made the remarks at a question-and-answer session after the foundation’s year-end press conference yesterday afternoon.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said its cross-strait policy was to proceed gradually and tackle easier and more urgent economic issues before working on thornier, less pressing political questions.

But Beijing has indicated that it wants to address economic and political issues concurrently.

Chiang said yesterday that both sides had reached a consensus on dealing first with easier issues related to the economy and gradually moving toward more difficult and political ones.

Emphasizing that the ASEAN Plus Three forum — which consists of the ASEAN countries and Japan, South Korea and China — had put pressure on Taiwan, Chiang said a cross-strait economic cooperation agreement would be key to addressing the problem.

Chiang said the SEF had not yet received any instructions on negotiating political issues, including a truce and military confidence-building measures.

In related news, the Center for Prediction Markets at National Chengchi University yesterday said the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan would likely be less than 20,000 this month.

Since a cross-strait agreement in June to increase the daily quota for Chinese tourists to 3,000, an average of 350 Chinese visitors have entered the country per day, it said.

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