Lifting the ban on selected Chinese imports of agricultural and aquatic products is a necessary aspect of the negotiation of the cross-strait trade in goods agreement, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
Currently, imports of 615 Chinese agricultural and aquatic products remain banned to protect Taiwan’s agricultural and fishery industries.
Although Beijing hopes Taiwan can lift the ban on all the restricted items, Taipei does not plan to concede, Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said.
“We have to evaluate the impact of Chinese imports on Taiwan’s industries,” Deng said.
“Our aim is to ink a high-quality trade agreement with China, meaning that Taiwan and China have to eliminate tariff duties for 90 percent of both sides’ products,” Industrial Development Bureau Director-General Wu Ming-ji (吳明機) said at the ministry’s year-end news conference.
Wu’s remarks are the first time the ministry has said explicitly that the goal of the goods agreement with China is to remove tariffs on 90 percent of products.
To ensure the protection of Taiwan’s agricultural and fishery industries, the government is in the process of drafting an import restriction removal period specifically for Chinese agricultural and aquatic imports, Wu said.
The longest tariff-elimination period is currently 15 years, according to the structure of the agreement that has been agreed by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The import restriction removal period for Chinese agricultural and aquatic imports might be longer than 15 years, an official who is familiar with the negotiation process said.
Commenting on Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) recent complaints that the government has neglected the needs of the nation’s panel industry, Wu said that businesses should understand that there is no way that the negotiation of an agreement can satisfy every industry’s need.
Gou on Dec. 21 complained to reporters that unlike the government-backed semiconductor industry, Taiwan’s panelmakers do not have the authorities’ support.
“I cannot comment too much at this stage as the negotiations are not completed. I can only say that we are still trying to fight for the interests of Taiwan’s panel industry,” Wu said.
As the negotiation of the agreement is in its final stages, the remaining issues over tariff reductions are becoming harder for negotiators to resolve, Deng said.
“We would not hold the next formal talks over the agreement unless Taipei and Beijing make some progress over the remaining tariff reductions,” Deng said, adding that the ministry has not set a timeframe for the next round of negotiations.
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