Taipei, April 26 (CNA) Trade relations between Taiwan and China have been improving steadily since the early harvest program took effect last year under the cross-Taiwan Strait Economic CooperationFramework Agreement (ECFA), a Taiwanese official said Thursday.
An increasing number of Taiwanese businessmen have been investing in China and vice versa, said Kao Koong-lian, deputy chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
With the removal of tariffs this year on 509 products, or 94.5percent, on the ECFA's early harvest list, bilateral trade isexpected to grow, he said prior to a meeting of the cross-straitEconomic Cooperation Committee in New Taipei City.
If Taiwan and China sign an investment protection pact, the economic ties between the two sides will continue to expand within an improving investment environment, Kao said.
He expressed the hope that Taiwan will reach consensus at Thursday's meeting with Zheng Lizhong, vice president of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and his delegation on the long-stalled investment protection pact and customs cooperation agreement.
Once the negotiations are completed, the agreements are likely to be signed later this year at the next meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and ARATS President Chen Yunlin, Kao said.
Zheng, who arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for the committee meeting, said the ongoing China-Taiwan negotiations on trade deals under the ECFA have made progress in terms of the investment protection pact, dispute settlement, trade products and services, and customs cooperation agreements.
He said the high expectations of the people in Taiwan and China have spurred the committee to accelerate negotiations on the follow-up agreements under the ECFA.
"It is motive power and pressure -- an encouragement and an urge," he said.
At the committee's third meeting, Taiwanese and Chinese officials reviewed the execution of the ECFA and matters related to setting up reciprocal trade offices and tried to finalize the investment protection and customs agreements.
Kao said he hopes both sides can resolve their differences so that their top negotiators can sign the agreement at their next meeting.
However, Vice Economic Affairs Minister Francis Liang was more cautious, declining to respond to questions on the progress of the negotiations until the discussions are completed.
The committee's regular meetings have been held alternately in Taiwan and China every six months since January 6, 2011 to deal with matters pertaining to the ECFA.
(By Chen Hung-chin, Huang Chiao-wen and Nell Shen)
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