Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) yesterday said the year-end legislative election and next year’s presidential elections were likely to affect cross-strait negotiations.
It is possible that the elections will influence the nation’s negotiations with China, he said.
“However, the negotiators from both sides are professionals and I believe they will use their professional expertise during negotiating and overcome any difficulty they encounter along the way,” he said at a press conference, declining to elaborate on what difficulty he referred to, but saying he meant to emphasize the capability of the negotiators.
Straits Exchange Foundation Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said the two sides could consider negotiating fishing disputes and signing an agreement after Chinese fishermen were recently found to have crossed into Taiwan’s waters off the Kinmen Islands. However, Kao emphasized that it was more important to resolve problems than to sign an accord that cannot be fully implemented.
Because Taipei and Beijing have formed the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee to negotiate subsequent accords after the two sides signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in June last year, Chiang said it was hard to predict how long the negotiations would take.
Taking the examples of Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries, Chiang said they also signed similar trade deals with China and it took them each about a year to complete the negotiations.
The ECFA stipulates that Taiwan and China must set up the 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 last year.
Kao and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Vice Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中), will serve as the committee conveners. Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) will head Taiwan’s 13-member team and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei (姜增偉) will head the Chinese team.
Chiang said both sides should be able to sign an agreement on investment protection when he meets his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), in China next time, while it should be easy to negotiate the -dispute-resolution mechanism.
As Beijing is also considering allowing individual Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan, Chiang said both sides have come to a preliminary agreement that Chinese tourists from certain areas will be allowed to visit certain places in Taiwan and that the program will be implemented in the first half of this year.