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ECFA might exclude agricultural products from tariff concessions

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) Taiwan and China might not include agricultural products on a list of items that will be subject to tariff concessions upon the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), officials and experts said Tuesday.
As Taiwan is concerned about the impact of opening to Chinese labor and agricultural products, China is likely to respect Taiwan's requests that agricultural products should be excluded from the list for tariff concessions, the officials said while attending an economic seminar that ended the previous day in the city of Chengdu in China's Sichuan Province.
"So far during the discussions of the proposed economic pact, the Chinese side has not only shown its understanding of and respect for most of Taiwan's requests, it has even tried to agree to them, " said Pang Chien- kuo, a former adviser to Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and a professor at Chinese Culture University.
Pang said the ECFA will not need to specify that Chinese agricultural products cannot enter Taiwan, but merely exclude them from the list of items for which tariff concessions will be allowed.
Wang Yi, chief of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, said China understands Taiwan's difficulties, as opening its market to Chinese agricultural products would have a great impact on Taiwan's own industries.
Some Taiwanese business executives who attended the seminar also predicted that China will not take action to boost Chinese labor exports to Taiwan.
Hua Xiaohong, dean of the Institute for International Economics at China's University of International Business and Economics, said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should think about how to balance the interests of both sides.
She said China has adopted a positive attitude toward signing the ECFA and that Chinese scholars and experts have also reached consensus on the issue.
The seminar, sponsored by the Taipei-based Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research and a think tank under the Taiwan Affairs Office, drew senior economic officials from Taiwan, including Deputy Economic Minister Hwang Jung-chiou, and Council for Economic Planning and Development Vice Minister San Gee.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said a day earlier that Taiwan and China will hold a fourth round of informal talks on the ECFA deal in Beijing Nov. 3-4, during which they will touch on "early harvest" issues for the first time.
The "early harvest" lists refer to industries or services that each side will open for immediate tariff concessions or more liberal trade terms under the ECFA, similar to provisions under a free trade agreement.
The government hopes to seal an ECFA agreement with China as soon as possible to reduce the impact on Taiwanese businesses of the economic integration of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will come into force next year.
(By Guo Mei-lan and Fanny Liu)

Updated : 2021-07-28 11:25 GMT+08:00