Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Legislature to review free-trade accord with New Zealand next week: Wang

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The free-trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and New Zealand is scheduled to be screened, and hopefully passed, in the Legislative Yuan next week, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday.

The bilateral economic cooperation agreement, with the official title of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC), was signed on July 10. New Zealand’s parliament has already ratified the accord.

Wang told reporters that the agreement was not scheduled for review in the legislature within a month given the current legislative agenda, but after a cross-party meeting yesterday, lawmakers agreed to advance the screening to Tuesday next week.

If passed by the legislature, it would be first free-trade agreement with a country other than China that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has signed since 2008 and the first Taiwan signed with a non-diplomatic ally.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has staged an indefinite boycott of cross-party negotiations due to political differences, attended the meeting yesterday, but did not sign in, Wang said.

He said they reached a consensus to review the agreement and related amendments after a general question-and-answer session with the premier on the same day.

The proposed amendments include proposed changes to the Customs Import Tariff (海關進口稅則), the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act (菸酒稅法) and the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法).

In related news, Wang, who is still engaged in a legal battle with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) over his party membership, said he has received an invitation for the KMT congress and plan to attend the annual meeting.

The congress was pushed back from Sept. 29 to Nov. 10 and moved from Taipei to Greater Taichung due to planned protests by various groups unhappy with Ma’s governance and unpopular policies.

Wang’s membership was invalidated by the party amid accusations of improper lobbying, but he has since won a provisional injunction and temporarily retained his status.

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