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Cross-strait trade agreement more practical than CEPA: SEF deputy

Cross-strait trade agreement more practical than CEPA: SEF deputy

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The deputy chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) , Kao Koong-lian, said Wednesday that it is more pragmatic for Taiwan to ink a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with China (TIFA) than a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) at the present time.
Kao, who also doubles as secretary-general of the quasi-official SEF, made such a remark during a press conference held at the Management Institute of Taipei.
"At the present stage of cross-strait economic relations development, it would be more pragmatic and beneficial for Taiwan to sign a TIFA with China, " said Kao, adding that such an agreement could pave the way for the inking of the much more complex and politically sensitive CECA between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in the future.
Despite the fact that the tariff rate issue still needs to be resolved before both sides can sign a TIFA but the difference in tariff rates between the two sides might create business opportunities for the Taiwanese investors in China. As foreign products are subject to lower tariff rates in Taiwan, compared to China, these products could be sold to China for a higher price, explained Kao.
Asked about recent criticisms about the proposal of signing a CECA with China, Kao said that the true meaning of such an agreement is to reduce the tariff rates and trade barriers in the bilateral trade between Taiwan and China. He added that some critics emphasized too much on the name of the agreement.
Some members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party are concerned that with the signing of a CECA with China will follow the Hong Kong model, which would downgrade Taiwan to the level of a local government, and fall into China's "one country, two systems" arrangement.
"The name of the agreement is insignificant compared to its function, " said Kao. "I am sure the bright minds of both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be able to find a name that can be accepted by both sides." Turing to the just-concluded forum between the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the mainland, Kao said that the SEF hopes to establish multiple channels of communications with China through non-governamental organizations (NGOs).
He added that the meeting between the KMT and the CPC has not and will not contradict nor influence the existence and functions of the two quasi-official intermediary bodies -- Taiwan's SEF and the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).
The SEF and the ARATS are quasi-official organizations representing each side of the Taiwan Strait in talks on issues related to cross-strait exchanges, in the absence of official ties.
In their second round of talks held in Taipei from Nov. 3-7, SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, and his Chinese counterpart, ARATS President Chen Yunlin, signed four agreements to allow daily direct flight services, direct shipping and postal links, as well as the establishment of a food safety mechanism between the two sides.
President Ma Ying-jeou has invested major efforts in improving relations with Beijing since taking office in May, openly stating that he will not pursue unification or independence during his term, favoring instead a policy focusing on strengthening economic ties to revive Taiwan's sluggish economy.
(By Luis Yu)




Updated : 2021-04-15 01:22 GMT+08:00