Fri, May 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Free-trade agreement with Panama still valid: MOFA

TERMS OF AGREEMENT:Despite the severance of official ties, Taiwan has yet to receive notice from Panama on canceling the accord, the ministry said

Staff writer, with CNA

Then-minister of foreign affairs David Lee, third left, former ambassador to Panama Miguel Tsao, second right, and others hold the Republic of China flag that had flown at the embassy in Panama in Taipei on June 17 last year.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Republic of China (ROC) and Panama is still effective as no notification of termination has been received, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said.

The ministry made the statement on Wednesday in response to a report on Chinese-language online news platform Up Media on Tuesday quoting Panamanian Minister of the Presidency Alvaro Aleman as saying the FTA has become invalid.

The two nations severed official ties in June last year after more than a century of diplomatic relations.

Taiwan assumed that its FTA with Panama would remain in force until the two sides reach a new consensus on bilateral trade relations or strike a new deal.

Taiwan adheres to treaties and fulfills its international obligations in accordance with international law, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.

According to the basic principles of international law, unless the existence of diplomatic relations is necessary for the enforcement of a treaty, the severance of diplomatic relations by the parties involved does not affect the validity of the treaty, Lee said.

Moreover, the accord in question includes a “termination” article, which states that termination of the agreement shall enter into force 180 days after notification to the other party, Lee said.

As the government has yet to receive an official notification from Panama to end the agreement, it is believed that the FTA is still effective, he added.

Asked if the rights of Taiwanese businesses would be affected should Panama decide to abort the agreement, Lee said that further verification would be conducted and international law would be followed to safeguard the legal rights of Taiwanese.

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), the nation’s top trade negotiator, agreed, saying that Panama has “never notified us” about terminating the agreement.

Taiwan imports a significant amount of shrimp from Panama,while Taiwan sells many goods to Panama, Deng said, adding that, as of now, there have been no reports of the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople being affected.

“Everything is OK,” Deng added.

Bilateral trade between Taiwan and Panama in the first two months of this year totaled US$25.6 million, with Taiwan exporting US$20.4 million in goods to Panama, while importing US$5.2 million worth of products from Panama, data from the Bureau of Trade Web site showed.

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