Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Singapore envoy puts trade first

TRADING PLACES:Although ASTEP negotiations with Singapore started last year there have been reports of tensions between the two sides impeding progress

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Newly appointed representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun, representative to Singapore Fadah Hsieh, and Perry Shen, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, left to right, are sworn in at the MOFA in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The nation’s new representative to Singapore, Fadah Hsieh (謝發達), yesterday said signing a free-trade agreement with the city-state was at the top of his agenda, but did not give a timeframe for that objective.

It would be “unrealistic” to set a timetable for completion of negotiations on the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate -Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), but “we will get it done with the fastest speed,” Hsieh said.

Taiwan and Singapore began formal talks on the ASTEP early last year after a four-month study on the feasibility of such a deal was completed.

Hsieh is scheduled to report to his new job on Thursday next week.

The Ministry of Foreign -Affairs yesterday held a swearing-in ceremony for Hsieh, who was appointed to replace Vanessa Shih (史亞平) amid reported tensions between the two nations over various issues that have reportedly impeded the progress of ASTEP negotiations.

Meanwhile, newly appointed representative to Japan, Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) was also sworn in yesterday, and vowed to give a speech in Japanese within six months of his inauguration.

He made the promise in response to criticism about his lack of skills in Japanese.

Shen is scheduled to assume his new post at the end of next month after Representative John Feng (馮寄台) returns to Taiwan.

Although Feng’s application for retirement has been approved, there has been speculation that he has been tapped to succeed Timothy Yang (楊進添) to lead the ministry as part of a planned -second-stage of a Cabinet reshuffle that will be held before President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration for his second term in office on May 20.

Yang said he had not heard any information in that regard and refused to comment.

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