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Taiwan should speed up trade talks amid new FTA threat: minister

2012/05/14 15:59:37

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Taiwan should speed up the progress of talks with its major trade partners, as China, Japan and South Korea have decided to launch talks on a proposed free trade bloc, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said Monday.

"The three-way negotiations will definitely create pressure for us," Shih said on the sidelines of a legislative hearing.

If the three of Asia's four biggest economies form a free-trade bloc that does not include Taiwan, "the influence will be tremendous," he added.

Taiwan should move faster to begin or re-open trade talks with its major partners as soon as possible, Shih said, adding that the country should accelerate talks with China on a bilateral economic pact, as well as seeking further cooperation with Japan.

In addition, Taiwan should broaden its markets in Southeast Asia and re-open trade talks with the United States, he said.

"There are many issues that we need to resolve," said Shih, adding that time is of the essence.

Taiwan's ban on imports of U.S. beef containing residue of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine is an obstacle and the main reason why the two countries have not held talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement since 2007, according to the minister.

Taiwan should also begin trying to cooperate with its major trade rival, South Korea, instead of seeing it only as a competitor, he continued.

"Although South Korea is a strong competitor, it is also a very important trade partner," Shih said, adding that Taiwan and South Korea can build up "competitive cooperation" to create more business.

(By James Lee)