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ECFA seen as done deal

2010/06/13 21:06:23

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) A proposed economic cooperation frameworkagreement (ECFA) across the Taiwan Strait is now seen as a done deal,as both sides have reached consensus on the text of the accord, theStraits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said Sunday.

Each side's "early harvest" lists of goods and services to besubject to tariff waivers or easier market access terms under theagreement will be incorporated as appendices to the ECFA after beingfurther verified by the two sides, the quasi-official intermediarybody announced in a press statement.

The SEF announcement came after the Taiwanese and Chinese chiefnegotiators -- Huang Chih-peng, director-general of the Bureau ofForeign Trade under Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, and TangWei, director of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and MacauAffairs under China's Ministry of Commerce -- said in Beijing earlierin the day that expert-level ECFA negotiations had been completed.

According to the SEF statement, the ECFA text is composed of fivechapters -- preface, general principles, trade and investment,economic cooperation, early harvest lists and other affairs -- thatcomprise a total of 16 articles regulating nearly all majorcross-strait economic activities.

The trade and investment chapter outlines principles and itemsrequiring further negotiation in terms of bilateral merchandisetrade, service trade and investment, the SEF statement said.

On economic cooperation, the text requires the two sides tocooperate on intellectual property rights protection, financialservices cooperation, trade facilitation, and industrial cooperation.

The chapter on the "early harvest" program lays down regulationson tariff waivers for merchandise trade and preferential marketaccess terms for service industries.

Detailed lists of products and services to benefit from the"early harvest" program will be included in the ECFA as appendices,the statement said.

Huang and Tang confirmed that China will offer tariff exemptionsor reductions on about 500 items of merchandise from Taiwan under theagreement, while only around 200-plus Chinese products will enjoysimilar tariff concessions upon entering the Taiwanese market.

Other clauses stipulate relief measures for trade disputes, aswell as procedures for the agreement to take effect or be terminated.

The agreement also comprises documentation of "place of origin"regulations for "early harvest" list products, as well as on thedefinition of service providers with regard to services included inthe "early harvest" roster.

Taiwanese and Chinese working-level officials began their thirdformal round of ECFA talks earlier that day.

According to consensus reached at the meeting, the two sidesagreed to begin offering tariff exemptions or reductions on "earlyharvest" list products and easier market access terms for "earlyharvest" list services within a certain period after ECFA takeseffect.

Now that both sides have come to terms on the text of theagreement, the deal should be able to be formally sealed by the endof June as originally expected, observers said.

SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his Chinese counterpart, ChenYunlin, president of the Association for Relations across the TaiwanStrait, are scheduled to hold a fifth meeting in the first half ofthis year during which ECFA is expected to be formally sealed.

(By Feng Chao, Huang Chi-kuan and Sofia Wu)
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