Negotiator silent as ECFA delegation heads back to PRC

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Sat, Apr 03, 2010 - Page 3

The Chinese delegation to the just-concluded second round of talks on a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China headed home yesterday. China’s lead negotiator, Tang Wei (唐煒), declined to make any public comments prior to his departure.

Asked whether anything concrete had been achieved at the talks, Tang, head of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under China’s Ministry of Commerce, only gave a polite “thank you all” in response.

To avoid pro-independence or anti-China protesters at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Chinese delegation arrived two hours before their flight was due to depart.

According to police authorities in Taoyuan, the Chinese delegation toured a tourist dairy farm in Yangmei Township (楊梅) yesterday morning before heading to the airport. For many of the Chinese negotiators this was reportedly their first visit to Taiwan.

The second round of ECFA talks began on Wednesday at Ta Shee Resort in Taoyuan County, and concluded at noon on Thursday, half a day earlier than originally planned.

At the end of the talks, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) expressed optimism about the prospects for signing the trade pact with China in June as scheduled.

Lai said the significance of the just-concluded negotiations lay in ensuring that no sector will be unduly impacted by the ECFA deal. She also indicated that more effort would be made in future rounds of talks to show which sectors will benefit from the deal.

The talks give form to the government’s promise over the past year that the “early harvest” program — a list of items for which duties will be reduced or exempted immediately — will not include any agricultural items that Taiwan does not import from China at present. It will also not include industries that cater to conventional domestic demand and would therefore be sensitive to new inflows of Chinese goods, she said.