Thursday, February 25, 2010
Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-jeou, has reiterated that the negotiation and signing of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China should be completed as soon as possible, as it was an imperative for Taiwan’s economic future.
Initial negotiations on the proposed ECFA between the two countries were held in January last year. There appeared to have been agreement on procedural matters, but participants at the meeting said that it was difficult to say when the next official round of negotiations would be.
Both China and Taiwan still had much preparatory work to do, particularly on an “early harvest” list of products eligible for lower tariffs, before specific discussions could be held. While each side agreed to expedite their work as far as possible, the timing of a further meeting is therefore unlikely to be fixed before it is confirmed that such work has been done.
However, it seems that the Taiwanese government is still looking to sign the ECFA during the first half of this year, with the second round of negotiations expected to start next month. The positive message given out by Ma Ying-jeou reinforces that intention.
With the ECFA as a starting point, he confirmed that it would then be easier for Taiwan to pursue free trade agreements with its other major trading partners. He is particularly concerned that the advent of the free trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on January 1 this year will adversely affect Taiwan’s trade prospects.
He also pledged that the government would look after Taiwan’s interest in the negotiation of the ECFA. For example, the government will look to a reduction in import tariffs imposed by China on Taiwan’s manufactured goods, and arrange for the protection of Taiwanese investments and intellectual property rights in China.