Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait customs pact almost ready to be signed

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan and China are in the final stages of signing a customs cooperation pact that is expected to facilitate customs clearance and help businesses conducting cross-strait trade keep costs down, the Mainland Affairs Council said.

Taiwan’s top China policy planner on Thursday said it was likely that the two sides of the Strait would finalize the deal during the eighth round of high-level talks expected to take place in the near future between the two sides.

The expected pact is part of follow-up negotiations in the wake of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010, the council said. Under the new deal, a platform would be established to enhance mutual discussion of customs-related problems, Mainland Affairs Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said.

For instance, she said, both sides would cooperate closely on the evaluation of imported goods to identify customs codes, which could lower the chance of disputes and accelerate clearance procedures. Illegal trafficking of drugs or weapons would be detected more easily through such a measure, she added.

“A significant amount of time and money would be cut under the new policy, a true benefit to both Taiwanese and Chinese businesses,” Lai said.

Lai added that US$130 billion of cross-strait trade was conducted last year.

Deputy Minister of Finance Hwang Ding-fang (黃定方) said Taiwan and China would also apply cutting-edge technology to make customs clearance smoother.

He said that cargo shipments could be more efficiently tracked and checked in future if both sides incorporated radio-frequency identification (RFID) into their sensor systems and cargo management platforms.

RFID systems, which rely on electromagnetic waves to exchange data between an object and a terminal, allow shippers to have containers scanned without being opened. The system would require less time and fewer workers, saving importers about NT$8,000 (US$266) per container, Lai said.

In addition, Lai said Taiwan and China would push for a joint certification system to allow companies with a good reputation to pass through customs more quickly.

“In some situations, it would be a matter of seconds for those certified as Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) to complete all necessary procedures,” Lai said.

Currently, about 100 Taiwanese companies have been certified as AEOs, she said.

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