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Timing not ripe for Taiwan-Hong Kong FTA: Taiwanese official

2012/06/12 22:07:26

Hong Kong, June 12 (CNA) Officials from Taiwan and Hong Kong do not have enough understanding of each other to initiate a free trade agreement (FTA), despite a warming of ties between the two sides over the past six months, Taiwan's representative to Hong Kong said Tuesday.

"Despite warming ties between Taiwan and Hong Kong, officials from the two sides do not have a deep understanding of each other. For the time being, it will not be easy to sign an FTA," said James Chu, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong.

The office represents Taiwan's interests in Hong Kong in the absence of official ties with the special administrative region of China.

Chu made the remark at a press conference in response to reporters' questions on whether Taiwan will consider signing an FTA with Hong Kong as the latter is reportedly eager to do so.

Chu said Taiwanese officials even have more interaction with Singaporean and New Zealand officials than with Hong Kong officials.

He urged officials from both sides to have more contact before considering an FTA deal.

Chu also congratulated Hong Kong's leader-elect, Leung Chun-ying, who is due to take office July 1. He also extended an invitation for Leung to visit Taiwan.

Leung is criticized by many in Hong Kong for his close ties to the Communist Party of China.

In a rare move, the Taiwanese official also commented on Leung's policy of establishing a department of culture in Hong Kong, saying that such a unit would be helpful in facilitating cultural development.

Ties between Taiwan and Hong Kong have improved in recent years after Taiwan's Chung Hwa Travel Service -- Taiwan's de facto representative office in Hong Kong -- was renamed and upgraded in July last year into Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, a title indicative of its true functions.

(By Stanley Cheung and Ann Chen)