Cross-strait service trade talks to finish by year’s end: SEF

STYLE, NOT SUBSTANCE::Aside from the talks, the SEF’s chairman also said Beijing said it would take ‘seriously’ the complaints about its new passports

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - Page 3

Taiwan and China are expected to complete negotiations on liberalizing trade in services across the Taiwan Strait by the end of this year, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) said yesterday.

Opening access in services was one of the priorities in follow-up negotiations on the bilateral Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and discussions on the issue are in their final stage, Lin said.

Talks about liberalizing merchandise trade further under the ECFA were also going smoothly, Lin said at the SEF’s board of directors and supervisors meeting.

Under the ECFA, which was signed in June 2010, hundreds of Taiwanese and Chinese goods included in the pact’s early-harvest list were given preferential tariff treatment in each other’s territory starting on Jan. 1 last year.

Most of those goods will be given duty-free treatment starting next month, but there are thousands more products and services shipped between the two countries that still carry high duties whose status is under negotiation.

Lin said that China responded positively to the problems many Taiwanese companies in China have in getting financing. The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) agreed to loosen restrictions on Taiwanese businesses applying for Chinese government funds, Lin said.

Meanwhile, on the issue of China’s new passports, Lin said he told ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) that Taiwan has taken a firm stance on the issue.

The passports, which show areas Beijing has no jurisdiction over — including Taiwan — as part of China’s territory, were seen as infringing on the sovereignty of Taiwan and other Asian countries.

The Chinese authorities expressed understanding of Taiwan’s position and promised to handle the matter seriously, Lin said, adding that ARATS said the passports were not official and the changes were made based on style considerations and “without any particular motive in mind.”