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Taiwan's President Wants FTA With Japan This Year

Monday, February 8, 2010

At a meeting with the new Japanese representative to Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou said that, together with a further strengthening of bilateral ties in a number of fields, he hopes Taiwan and Japan can conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) this year.

He pointed to the close economic relationship between the two countries – where Taiwan is Japan’s fourth largest trading partner and Japan is Taiwan’s second largest trading partner. He felt that even closer trade and economic relations would be of benefit, particularly for businesses.

The President also expressed the opinion that Taiwan’s present efforts to improve cross-strait relations with China are of benefit to Japan, Korea and the south-east Asian region as a whole. The government has already confirmed that, with the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China as a starting point, Taiwan then wants to pursue FTAs with its other major trading partners.

Following the first round of negotiations on the ECFA with China on January 26, when agreement was reached on procedural matters, it was hoped that the second round of negotiations would be held as soon as possible, although both parties had much work to be done on their "early harvest" list of items eligible for lower tariffs to be included in the future agreement.

While indications are that the second round will be held towards the end of February, no date has yet been fixed and other reports have said that the meeting will now not be held before early in March. However, although those talks may have been delayed, the Taiwanese government still expect the ECFA itself to be concluded and signed in the first half of this year.