Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) The growth rate of Taiwan's exports to China has not increased as much as expected since the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement's (ECFA's) early harvest program for tariff reductions began taking effect Jan. 1, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday by a local weekly.
Although Taiwan has the advantage of tariff incentives in its trade with China, which South Korea and Japan do not have, those two countries still posted higher export growth rates than Taiwan during the first seven months of 2011, Vivien Liou, deputy editor-in-chief of the Taipei-based Business Weekly, said in a press conference in which the poll results were announced.
Between January and July this year, exports to China of the 539 items covered under the early harvest list totaled US$11.8 billion, up 14.4 percent from the same period of last year.
That was lower than the 17.5 percent compound annual growth of the same group of exports to China between 2006 and 2008, before the global economic tsunami hit, Liou said, and also poorer than other countries in the region without ECFA benefits.
According to the weekly's figures, Japan and South Korea saw exports of the same group of products to China grow at rates of 14.96 percent and 28.91 percent, respectively.
But exports of products covered by the ECFA did benefit to some extent, according to CNA calculations, based on Chinese customs and Business Weekly figures. Their 14.4 percent export growth to China was nearly double the 8.7 growth of exports from Taiwan to China that were not covered under the early harvest list.
Shih Hui-tzu, a researcher at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, was quoted as saying that if South Korea, Taiwan's principal trade rival, were to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, it would be "the most powerful rival" for the ECFA.
Shih also pointed out that it will be very difficult for Taiwan to sign FTAs with the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United States in the short term, which means that the Chinese market, therefore, is "Taiwan's only chance to beat (South Korea)."
Under the terms of the ECFA, China will remove tariffs on all Taiwanese goods and services on the early harvest list, carried out in three phases over two years, with the tariff-free goal scheduled to be achieved in January 2013.
(By James Lee)