Taiwan mulling separating banking sector from China services pact

Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) Taiwan is mulling taking out the banking sector from the long-stalled trade-in-services agreement with China and allowing further opening of banking industries across the Taiwan Strait, Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun said Tuesday. Asked if the banking sector can be opened before the agreement takes effect -- an unknown point in time because the services pact is still awaiting endorsement from legislators -- Duh told Hit FM radio station that Taiwan's top financial regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission, is examining the possibility of doing so. Dealing with banking industries separately from the rest of the agreement is not impossible as long as China agrees, according to Duh. Many Taiwanese banking service providers are anxious to increase their presence in China since the controversial services pact has been stalled in the Legislature. The agreement, signed by Taiwan and China in June, 2013, has been blocked by opposition lawmakers, who worry it will hurt Taiwan's interests and allow China a greater influence over Taiwan. Duh said the legislative standstill has caused China to doubt Taiwan's determination to continue pushing for other cross-Taiwan Strait agreements. Taiwan and China are however still set to resume negotiation on a trade-in-goods agreement later this month. Duh said the Economics Ministry will step up negotiations, in consideration of the free trade agreement being discussed between China and South Korea, Taiwan's main trade rival, which could be signed by the end of this year. But he stressed that the ministry will ensure the interests of Taiwan as it seeks an early signing of the trade-in-goods agreement. (By Huang Chiao-wen, Yin Chun-chieh and Elaine Hou)