Taiwan yesterday wrapped up the latest talks with China over a trade in goods agreement, but no significant breakthrough on further tariff reductions was made during the three-day negotiations.
Taiwan and China restarted the trade in goods talks, which took place at the Evergreen Resort Hotel in Yilan County’s Jiaosi Township (礁溪), after the negotiations had been put on hold for the past year.
Taiwan has addressed local manufacturers’ concerns about the potential impact from a free-trade agreement between China and South Korea, as the pact could cause about NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) in damage, Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Jenni Yang (楊珍妮) told reporters.
China and South Korea are likely to sign a bilateral trade pact by the end of this year and Yang said her Chinese counterpart, Chen Xing (陳星), head of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, had got the message.
As South Korea is a major rival to Taiwan primarily in the LCD panel, machinery tool and auto part sectors, Taiwanese manufacturers fear that they would lose out to their South Korean competitors if Taiwan and China do not sign a trade in goods agreement, including import tariff reductions, before the China-South Korea free-trade agreement goes into effect, she said.
Dashing that hope, the Taiwanese and Chinese representatives did not discuss expanding the goods that would be subject to tariff cuts or any details about the scope of further tariff reductions.
Yang said they did discuss how to open up the nation’s agricultural sector while safeguarding the interests of Taiwanese farmers and fostering the sustainable development of the local agriculture industry.
“Food safety issues and relaxations on the textile and shoe-making industries were also on the agenda,” Yang said.
Over the past three days, representatives from both sides mainly focused on reviewing and confirming preliminary agreements, mostly the structure of the trade in goods agreement, negotiateded during talks over the past three-and-a-half years since the first meeting took place in February 2011, according to a statement issued by the Bureau of Foreign Trade.
Taiwan and China have agreed to tariff reductions in five categories when opening their markets to each other in the future, Yang said.
No specific date has been set for the next round of talks, Yang said.
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