Fri, Aug 27, 2010 - Page 3 News List

ECFA likely to begin next month

WTOAn official said yesterday that Beijing did not rule out informing the WTO of the ECFA in line with WTO rules stipulating it had to be notified of regional FTAs

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is likely to take effect next month, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said yesterday.

The legislature on Tuesday last week approved the pact and related legal revisions as well as an accord on the protection of intellectual property rights.

Following the legislature’s approval, it will notify the Executive Yuan, which will then inform the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC). The council will then authorize the SEF to convey the information to its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and the trade pact will come into force the day after the notification is received.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) yesterday declined to speculate on the exact date for the implementation of the ECFA, saying only that each side would inform the other once respective procedures are complete.

The legislature must also inform President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that the legal revisions pertaining to the trade pact have cleared the lawmaking body so that the president can promulgate them into law.

Ma on Wednesday promulgated amendments to the Trademark Act (商標法), Patent Act (專利法) and Plant Variety and Seed Act (植物品種及種苗法). The Customs Tariff Act (海關進口稅則) is currently making its way to Ma’s desk.

The “early harvest” program, meanwhile, will take effect on Jan. 1 next year. The program refers to a list of goods and services that will be subject to immediate tariff concessions or exemptions, which forms the backbone of the proposed deal.

China has agreed to gradually lower tariffs for 539 categories of imports, with an estimated value of US$13.8 billion a year. Beijing also agreed to open 11 service categories and 18 farming and fishery categories.

Although the 539 categories of traded goods accounted for only 16 percent of China-bound exports, the administration said they were still conducive to overall economic development.

Chinese exporters, on the other hand, will get a reciprocal deal on 267 items, with an estimated value of US$2.9 billion a year.

In related news, an official familiar with the ECFA said yesterday that China did not rule out notifying the WTO of the trade pact it signed with Taiwan.

With Taiwan and China both playing a significant role in world trade, the ECFA has drawn the attention of many WTO members, the official said.

Taipei and Beijing recently discussed whether they should formally notify the WTO of their pact, the official added.

Because the ECFA was signed by the SEF and the ARATS — two semi-official bodies responsible for handling two-way exchanges — Taiwan will send the WTO a letter signed by Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), explaining that the trade pact was inked with the authorization of the two governments.

Since the ECFA is considered a regional free-trade agreement, WTO rules dictate that the organization be notified.

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