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Taiwan-New Zealand free trade talks to begin soon

2012/05/18 12:19:01

Taipei, May 18 (CNA) Taiwan will officially begin free trade talks with New Zealand "in the near future," Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday, following the recent completion of a joint feasibility study into a bilateral economic cooperation agreement.

A specific timetable for the talks, however, was not mentioned in the press statement released by the ministry.

"The ministry hopes that negotiations will be smooth and bring concrete results," it said, adding that the pact is bound to benefit and further expand Taiwan-New Zealand economic relations.

In an interview earlier this month, Economic Minister Shih Yen-shiang noted that the highly anticipated talks could be launched "by the end of May."

Besides New Zealand, Taiwan is in talks with Singapore on a possible economic pact -- the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership.

Taiwan and Singapore started the negotiation process in 2011, but significant progress has yet to be made. There has been speculation that the talks have been delayed because of friction between the two sides.

Singaporean authorities were allegedly offended when Vanessa Shih, former Taiwan representative to the city-state, met with opposition party members during her three-year term that ended earlier this year.

Since Taiwan inked the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China in June 2010, it has been looking to ink free trade agreements with other nations.

(By Nancy Liu)