Fri, May 03, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet approves tariff cuts proposal

FREE TRADE BLOC:The premier urged the Ministry of Finance and lawmakers to work together to speed up the proposed cuts’ implementation to aid the nation’s CPTPP bid

By Lee Hsin-fang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka speaks at a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei in an undated photograph.

Photo: Li Hsin-fang, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a proposal that would slash tariffs on dozens of imported goods in a bid to boost Taiwan’s chances of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Changes to the Customs Import Tariff (海關進口稅則) regulations were proposed following the nation’s signing of an economic cooperation agreement with Paraguay in 2017 to eliminate tariffs on 29 products produced in Paraguay, including yerba mate tea, the Cabinet said.

The amendments were drafted to carry out promises made in the agreement with the South American nation, as well as to extend the benefits of the cooperation, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.

They were also drafted to encourage the replacement of old, large diesel vehicles, and as part of the government’s efforts to join the CPTPP, he said, adding that there is a need to make tariffs reasonable under a principle of mutual benefit.

Under the draft amendments, tariffs on imported auto parts for diesel trucks over 3.18 tonnes and diesel vehicles that seat over 10 passengers, which are currently at 2.5 percent to 15 percent, would be removed, the Executive Yuan said.

In response to requests by domestic businesses, the proposal also seeks to lower tariffs on five types of frozen seafood — shishamo, unsmoked crab, scallop, cuttlefish and octopus — from between 10 percent and 30 percent to between 2 percent and 5.5 percent, it said.

They would also reduce tariffs on 10 agricultural and related products — including fresh scallop, Chinese yam, satsuma mandarin, miso, mayonnaise, curry sauce and sake — from between 10 percent and 40 percent, to between 5 percent and 20 percent, it said.

Su said he had asked the Ministry of Finance and other government agencies to communicate with legislative caucuses so that the draft amendments could be implemented soon.

Some see the proposed amendments as a gesture of goodwill toward Japan after a majority of Taiwanese voted in a referendum last year to maintain a ban on imports of food products from 31 regions in Japan that was imposed after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

The CPTPP came into being after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of its predecessor — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — just days after he took office in January 2017.

The other 11 TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — renegotiated the free-trade deal and called it the CPTPP.

Taiwan has been trying to join the regional economic bloc since its formation in March last year by the 11 signatory economies, many of which are the nation’s major trading partners.

Additional reporting by CNA

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