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Taiwan, China begin talks on new pacts

2012/08/09 11:49:47

Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) Taiwan and China began their latest round of high-level talks Thursday, in which an investment protection pact and a customs cooperation agreement were expected to be sealed later in the day.

The meeting between the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), also show the way that exchanges are ongoing between the two sides, the top negotiators from both sides said.

"The institutionalized talks begun four years ago have contributed to a win-win situation for both sides of the Taiwan Strait," SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said in his opening remarks at the talks.

Turning to the much-anticipated investment protection pact set to be inked at the meeting, Chiang said the biggest benefit of the pact is that it will establish a multi-layer mechanism for resolving investment disputes.

ARATS President Chen Yunlin also said he expects the investment pact, along with a customs cooperation agreement, to help foster a more wholesome investment environment.

The two pacts are among the follow-up negotiations conducted since the signing in 2010 of the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between the two sides of the strait.

"We hope that easing investment restrictions will encourage bilateral trade," said Chen.

He also said that both sides could extend their current cooperation to the field of seismic research and relative technology development.

Meanwhile, Chiang added that the execution of some agreements have yet to fulfill public expectations and will require continuing efforts from the two sides.

For example, he said, the two sides should make efforts to raise the number of individual Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, such as by Beijing authorizing more Chinese travel agencies to conduct this type of business.

The two sides should also improve the process of repatriation of major economic criminals, and ensure the rights of Taiwanese taken into custody in China, he added.

He also mentioned the Taiwanese public's concern over major food safety issues in China and the relevant compensation measures, and said the two sides should regularly review the execution of the agreements.

The top negotiators said the two sides should complete the ECFA follow-up negotiations as soon as possible, including talks on trade in services and products and the establishment of a dispute resolution mechanism.

The SEF and ARATS are quasi-official bodies responsible for cross-strait engagements in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

(By Christie Chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)