Taipei and Beijing are set to sign an agreement on medical and health cooperation in Taipei today, but failed to reach a consensus on a separate accord on investment protection.
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said both sides needed more time to negotiate on the proposed pact on investment protection because the issue was complicated. However, the two sides agreed to make public today the progress that has been made, he said.
Kao made the remarks after he led the last round of negotiations before SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) meets his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), today, when the two are slated to sign the planned deal on medical and health cooperation.
Kao said the two sides also exchanged opinions on possible issues for the next Chiang-Chen meeting, which is expected to take place in China in the first half of next year. However, details could not be made available before today, he said.
They also agreed that it was necessary to establish a mechanism to examine the implementation of all cross-strait agreements signed since June 2008. Both sides have signed 14 agreements and two consensuses. Kao, however, declined to reveal any details, -saying they will not be finalized until today.
The two sides will decide today whether to lower prices of plane tickets for direct cross-strait flights, raise the daily quota of Chinese tourists from 3,000 to 4,000 and increase the number of Lunar New Year holiday flights, Kao said.
In Beijing, Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi (王毅) told reporters when he saw Chen off at the airport yesterday morning that he hoped the two sides could sign the proposed accord on investment protection in the first half of next year so China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and their Chinese counterparts could enjoy a sound and stable environment for investment.
Because Chiang recently said he would not meet Chen if the two sides had no agreement to sign in the future, Wang yesterday said they have established an institutionalized negotiation system to be held twice a year, once in China, once in Taiwan.
Signing agreements is not the only function of the SEF and ARATS, Wang said, adding that “many things” require negotiations and communications by the two quasi-official organizations. However, he did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, the two sides are unlikely to announce the formation of a proposed cross-strait economic cooperation committee today.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) stipulates that Taiwan and China set up a cross-strait economic cooperation committee once the trade pact takes effect, and within six months initiate discussions on agreements on investment protection, commodity trade, service trade and a dispute-resolution mechanism. The trade deal came into force on Sept. 12.
Kao yesterday declined to confirm whether the committee would be established in accordance with the ECFA, which was signed by the heads of the SEF and ARATS, saying it concerned many agencies, adding that the government structures on both sides of the Strait were different.
Kao was also reluctant to set a timetable for negotiations on the three subsequent ECFA deals, saying any agreement would be signed as soon as the negotiations are complete.