Government officials yesterday briefed foreign officials posted in Taiwan on the cross-strait service trade agreement recently signed by Taipei and Beijing, which will later be reviewed by the legislature.
The agreement, which was signed on June 21 during cross-strait talks in Shanghai, covers sectors spanning financial services, communications, transportation, healthcare, travel, and culture and entertainment.
China is to open up 80 service sub-sectors, while Taiwan is to open up 64 service sub-sectors, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) said at the briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The agreement would give Taiwanese investors better access to the Chinese market and help foreign firms with investments in Taiwan enter the Chinese market, Lin added.
The benefits of the agreement also include promoting participation in regional economic integration, he said, adding that the pact shows Taiwan’s efforts in the area of trade liberalization which would facilitate its bids to join regional free-trade blocs, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The briefing, hosted by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀), was attended by officials from countries such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, South Korea, Honduras, the Netherlands and the US.
Asked by an official from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) about the legislative review of the agreement, Lin said the council is hopeful that legislators would examine the agreement as a whole instead of reviewing it clause by clause.
Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) said the Ministry of Economic Affairs has to yet decide on whether to notify the WTO of the cross-strait service trade agreement as a stand-alone agreement or to notify it later along with other cross-strait trade agreements.
Meanwhile, an official from the Netherlands expressed concern over the results of the agreement, which he said surprised Taiwanese lawmakers and representatives of the service sector.
In response, Cho said the government did make efforts to communicate with lawmakers and business representatives from the service sector and to consult with them during the negotiations with China, but that it would have been impossible to consult each of the companies in service-related industries, adding that there are more than 1.28 million firms.
Cho described the nation’s service sector as very strong and said Taiwanese companies should have more confidence in their abilities.