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Taiwan MOEA completes ECFA evaluation, minister says

Yiin hopes Taiwan will sign agreement sooner rather than later

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), which is responsible for planning the proposed signing of a comprehensive trade pact with China has completed an overall evaluation of the proposal and finalized consultations with various local industries that were held to gain a better understanding of their needs, according to Economics Minister Yiin Chii-ming.
Yiin was quoted as having made the remarks at an executive meeting of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Wednesday.
According to KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung, Yiin outlined six stages that must be completed before an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China could be put into effect - separate assessments by each side, a joint assessment, negotiations, the signing of the agreement, legislative approval and implementation.
Yiin also expressed hopes at the meeting that the first stage could be completed in three months' time.
The minister stressed that it would be best for Taiwan to sign the proposed ECFA sooner rather than later, as China is about to enter into a free trade arrangement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.
When the ASEAN-China trade integration takes effect in 2010, tariffs on 93 percent of the products traded in the area will be removed, and Taiwan is under pressure to avoid marginalization, Yiin was quoted as saying.
If Taiwan is excluded from the free trade region, over half of the country's exports will be affected by high tariffs, which would lead to an exodus of local industries, according to Yiin.
Yiin also said that the government has come up with a "safeguard mechanism" to protect certain local industries, such as leather, towel and footwear manufacturers. In the initial period, Chinese goods from those sectors will not be allowed into Taiwan, and anti-dumpling measures will also be instituted, he added.
Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said Wednesday that the ECFA proposal is likely to be discussed in the preparatory meetings ahead of the third round of cross-Taiwan Strait talks.
The preparatory consultations for the third meeting between Taiwan's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin, president of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), are scheduled to be held in mid-April in Taiwan, according to Lai.
On the agenda of the next Chiang-Chen meeting are joint anti-crime efforts, regular scheduled cross-strait flights, financial cooperation, and Chinese investment in Taiwan, Lai said.
She said that the proposed ECFA will hopefully be raised during the preparatory meeting and that if both sides are willing to negotiate on the issue, it would be put on the agenda of the next round of Chiang-Chen talks.
As internal consensus is needed before such an agreement with China could be signed, it is still too early to negotiate with China on the proposed pact, Lai said.
The MAC chief said that as far as she knows, China is still studying the proposal, but added that the ECFA issue will definitely be raised in the fourth round of Chiang-Chen talks.

Updated : 2021-10-16 04:35 GMT+08:00