Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) is scheduled to visit Taiwan on Friday for preparatory talks with Straits Exchange Foundation Deputy Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) about the ninth high-level cross-strait meeting, the foundation said yesterday.
Zheng is set to arrive in Taipei at noon, before holding the talks in the afternoon with Kao, who will lead a delegation composed of officials from the foundation, the Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the foundation said.
The foundation said the focus of the talks would be to finalize the text of the proposed cross-strait service trade agreement and discussions on the date, location and agenda for the ninth cross-strait meeting.
The Chinese delegation is scheduled to return to China on Saturday, the foundation said.
Sources familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if both sides are able to reach a consensus during the preparatory talks, the next cross-strait meeting would most likely be held in China later this month.
The sources said the two sides would also deliberate on the proposed establishment of representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the likelihood of placing the proposal on the agenda for the 10th cross-strait meeting.
According to the ministry, 55 industries in Taiwan have been selected for Chinese investment under the service trade agreement.
If inked, the agreement would be a major follow-up to the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed in June 2010.
However, the agreement has given rise to concerns about its potential adverse impact on local service industry workers.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported late last month that the livelihoods of the nation’s 300,000 hairdressing industry workers might be at risk if the pact is inked and Chinese investment is allowed to flood the sector.
The report said that in addition to the financial, medical, telecom and travel agency sectors, the country’s nursing, theater, funeral planning, hairdressing and car leasing industries have all been listed as markets to be opened for Chinese investment.
Despite workers’ concerns, the council and the ministry have yet to provide a full report on how the agreement would impact the nation’s economy and job market, while ignoring workers’ opposition to the pact being signed in the absence of such a report.
The council and the ministry said they planned to submit such a report when the next legislative session begins in September.