Fri, Jan 23, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MAC hopes to ink deal on Chinese investment

CHASING THE YUANThe announcement came just a day after the SEF said that it had been authorized to negotiate just one item on the agenda for the next meeting

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday that they hoped to sign an agreement on Chinese investment in the nation and at least three more accords during the third round of cross-strait talks, scheduled to take place in the first half of this year.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) yesterday said that the council had authorized the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to negotiate three more issues in addition to joint efforts to combat crime: regular scheduled flights, a memorandum of understanding on a financial supervisory mechanism and Chinese investment in Taiwan.

The authorization came just a day after SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said on Wednesday that the MAC had so far only authorized the foundation to negotiate one issue listed on the agenda for a third round of cross-strait talks. There were six categories and 19 issues on the planned agenda.

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

Liu yesterday said that the council’s decision to authorize the SEF to negotiate on three more issues had nothing to do with what Chiang had said on Wednesday. He said he hoped the MAC and SEF could begin negotiations after the Lunar New Year holidays.

Different teams of negotiators would be put together in accordance with the nature of the issues to be negotiated, Liu said, adding that most of them would be government officials.

While Chinese investment was not placed on the planned agenda, MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday that was because Beijing had only recently agreed to discuss the issue.

“Bilateral talks must not be just wishful thinking,” Lai said. “Both sides must be willing and ready to talk.”

When asked for details on the Chinese investment proposal, Lai said both sides had recently agreed on the topic, but that there had been no decisions made on the scope. The government has expressed an interest in allowing Chinese investment in infrastructure projects and the real estate market.

Lai dismissed criticism that the council had been too slow in authorizing the SEF to negotiate, saying it required careful evaluation before negotiations could take place.

Meanwhile, Liu said yesterday that so far 12 Taiwanese firms have asked for a total of NT$700 million (US$21 million) in compensation from firms Duqing (都慶) and the now-bankrupt Sanlu (三鹿).

Duqing is a Chinese supplier of non-dairy creamer, whose three-in-one drink powders were recalled after tests showed they contained melamine. Sanlu is a Chinese dairy firm that also sold melamine-contaminated milk powder that killed at least six babies and made 290,000 ill.

Lai said most of the compensation requests were made against Duqing.

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