SEF says ECFA to be signed on June 29

DONE DEAL: An SEF official said after the proposed pact is inked, it will be sent to the Cabinet and then the legislature, which will call a provisional meeting for approval

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - Page 3

Top negotiators from Taipei and Beijing will meet in Chongqing, China, on Tuesday to sign a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said yesterday.

SEF Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) will meet his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), next week in China to sign an ECFA and an agreement on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The talks, which will last for three days, will be shorter than previous rounds because there will not be any sightseeing involved, Kao said.

Chiang and the delegation will arrive on Monday. He will meet Chen on Tuesday and return on Wednesday.

The trade pact and the IPR agreement will be sent to the Executive Yuan before going to the Legislative Yuan for final approval. The legislature has decided to call a provisional session to deal with the matter.

Earlier yesterday, ARATS Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) said before he met Kao in Taipei for the final round of negotiations that cross-strait negotiations were not a zero-sum game, but benign interactions that would be mutually beneficial.

“It is not a political game staged to declare individual positions, but a communications platform established to practically resolve problems,” he said. “I believe all Chinese on both sides of the Strait have the ability and wisdom to take the future of cross-strait relations into our own hands.”

Zheng said institutionalized negotiations have to be conducted based on three principles. First, both sides insist on equal negotiations and the replacement of confrontation with cooperation.

Second, is to strive for the well-being of people on both sides and promote the “overall interest of the Chinese nation,” he said.

Third is to face the future with an aggressive attitude, he said, adding that cross-strait negotiations should lay a solid foundation for future development and lead cross-strait relations down the correct path.

Zheng commended both sides for focusing on “the long-term interests of the Chinese nation” during the negotiation process. China also made good on its promise to fully consider the practical needs of “Taiwanese compatriots,” including the value and percentage of items on Taiwan’s “early harvest” list.

The “early harvest” list refers to a list of goods and services that will be subject to immediate tariff concessions or exemptions, which are expected to form the backbone of the proposed deal.

Despite describing the ECFA and the “early harvest” program as the “first step of institutionalized economic cooperation” between the two sides, Zheng said that the trade pact could not resolve all problems overnight.

Therefore, both sides need to continue negotiations and strengthen communications to properly address issues after the proposed accord takes effect, he said.

Kao described the ECFA and IPR agreement as a “milestone” in the development of cross-strait relations, saying the two sides have reached a consensus on signing the framework agreement first before proceeding to free trade.

ECFA aims to benefit people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Kao said, adding that the accord was meant to enhance the well-being of the people and industries on both sides.

For Taiwan, an ECFA would create a “benign cycle” for industries so they would compete in a fair environment, he said.

He defined the “benign cycle” as “lowering tariffs, facilitating exports, attracting investment, increasing employment and reviving the economy.”

For China, tariff reductions on the import of raw materials and spare parts from Taiwan would lower production costs, upgrade the competitiveness of its businesses, improve benefits to its labor force and upgrade the standards of Chinese social welfare.