Sat, May 25, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait service trade pact likely to be inked in June

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan is likely to sign a service trade agreement with China next month, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said yesterday.

The foundation has made a proposal to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) that foundation Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) and ARATS Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) meet next month to sign the accord, Kao said.

He did not say where it would take place.

If the meeting does occur, it will be the ninth high-level cross-strait meeting since 2008 and the first between Lin and Chen.

Lin took over as chairman of the foundation in September last year, while Chen took up his post last month.

The pact would be a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in June 2010.

Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Bill Chow (卓士昭) said late last month that Taiwan has obtained “WTO-plus” treatment from China because Beijing has promised to offer Taiwan better concessions than at the WTO.

All of the 65 trade service items that China has agreed to liberalize will fall under “WTO-plus” category, Chow said, while 66 percent of the 55 items listed by Taiwan for liberalization will be given “WTO-equal or below-WTO” treatment.

The main areas of services that China is opening up to Taiwan include e-business, creative culture, sea and air transportation, finance, medical services, telecommunications and travel agencies.

Taiwan will mainly opening up its financial, medical care and travel agency services, while the telecommunications sector will be partially liberalized.

In an interview published yesterday in the Chinese-language United Daily News, Chen said Taiwan has not granted China most-favored nation treatment in many areas since the ECFA was signed, despite the concessions made by Beijing.

However, Lin said that every cross-strait agreement so far has been mutually beneficial and he expressed the hope that the service trade pact will be signed soon.

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