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Legislature set to pass Taiwan-New Zealand economic pact (update)

2013/10/21 23:34:56

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) An economic cooperation agreement between Taiwan and New Zealand is expected to clear the Legislature during a plenary session next week, said Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng Monday.

The Agreement Between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) passed the first reading at a legislative committee session last week.

After holding a cross-party negotiation on Monday, Wang told the local media that the Legislature will deal with the agreement and legal amendments related to the agreement during a plenary session on Oct. 29.

The New Zealand parliament has completed examination of the agreement, which was signed in July, Wang added.

Draft amendments to the Foreign Trade Act will also be reviewed during the Oct. 29 session, Wang said.

Other draft law amendments related to the economic pact with New Zealand on acts on import tariffs, tobacco and alcohol taxes and tobacco hazard prevention could also be handled during the session.

Lawmakers from both the ruling Kuomintang and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said they support the agreement, but added that more consultations were needed on draft amendments to the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act and the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.

The draft amendments to the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Act stipulate that a NT$840 (US$28.57) tax will be imposed on every kilogram of cigarettes, from the current tax of NT$590.

According to the draft amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, the tobacco surcharge will be raised to NT$2,000 per 1,000 cigarettes from the current NT$1,000.

When the agreement was signed in July, Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch suggested adjusting tobacco taxes to offset potentially lower cigarette prices as a result of lower tariffs, because he was worried lower prices might encourage people to smoke more.

Following the signing of the economic pact with New Zealand, Taiwan is expected to sign a similar economic cooperation agreement with Singapore soon.

(By Claire Chen, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Elaine Hou)