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ECFA negotiations seen as key to raising Taiwan's economic strength

2012/05/16 21:59:52

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation said Wednesday it would strive to finalize further details of an economic pact with China by the end of 2013 to offset possible impacts of an expected trade partnership between China, Japan and South Korea.

Taiwan should accelerate follow-up negotiations with China over the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to avoid being marginalized in the global economy once a free trade bloc comprising China, Japan and South Korea is formed, said the Taipei-based foundation, which is authorized to handle cross-strait affairs in the absence of official ties with China.

"Watching others catching up so quickly worries many of us," said Kao Koong-lian, deputy chairman of the foundation.

Taiwan could lose the advantage it has gained from the ECFA if it fails to complete the agreement with China before the three countries reach a trade accord in mid-2014, Kao said.

Among Taiwan's expected challenges, those involving South Korea are especially daunting since the two are fierce rivals in the Chinese market, Kao said, adding that Taiwan has been exporting less to China than South Korea since 2005.

As a result, Kao said, the foundation is enhancing communication with local industries to facilitate opening up the cross-strait market.

As to ECFA-related talks, Kao said the foundation and its Chinese counterpart will hammer out further cooperation over trade in merchandise and services, as well as investment protection measures, in the next round of high-level talks in Taipei by the end of June.

The negotiations will be held between Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits President Chen Yunlin.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)