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Taiwan to prioritize FTA talks with major trade partners: president

Taiwan to prioritize FTA talks with major trade partners: president

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) Taiwan will place priority on its major trade partners in seeking to sign free trade agreements (FTA) in the wake of signing a landmark trade pact with China, President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday.
Ma's remarks came amid concerns about whether the talks on FTAs with other countries will be carried out after Taiwan inked an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China on June 29.
Taipei has long sought to sign FTAs with other governments. But so far it has made little headway, primarily due to opposition from China in the past. It has signed FTAs with only five governments, all in Central America -- Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The president noted that Taiwan currently maintains trade exchanges with around 150 countries, but it is not going to discuss signing an FTA with each of them.
"The point is whether it will benefit us after the signing of the pact," Ma said. He said that priority will be given to the major trading partners of Taiwan, although Taiwan will also see to it that the pact will be economically complementary. "If it is signed, it should be beneficial to us. If it is not beneficial or has little benefits, then it may not be necessary to put it on the priority list," the president said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is now studying whether to sign a pact with the 10-nation ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as a whole or with each member nation, he added.
While Japan is the second largest trade partner of Taiwan, and the United States is the third largest, if the ASEAN is counted as one, it will be the second largest trade partner, Ma said.
He added that negotiations on an economic cooperation pact is a long and complex process, but a path that should be pursued.
The MOEA has set up a task force while the National Security Council has also set up a global economic strategy team to handle matters related to FTA negotiations, the president said.
"We will learn the intention of various countries to talk and sign FTAs that will be most beneficial to us," he said.
He noted that many countries used to be unwilling to talk with Taiwan on FTAs, but now the atmosphere is changing.
"They are at least willing to talk now," Ma said, describing the change as very favorable to Taiwan.
(By Lee Shu-hua and Lilian Wu)




Updated : 2021-05-17 02:05 GMT+08:00