The Cross-Taiwan Strait Economic Cooperation Committee is currently holding its third regular meeting in Taipei to examine the implementation of the early harvest program in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and the progress of ensuing negotiations.
The early harvest program has produced many positive results since it was launched in 2011. For example, China's import of Taiwanese goods rose by 8 percent last year, with a 9.88 percent increase seen among products included in the early harvest program. Taiwan's import of Chinese goods moved up 21.89 percent, with 23.71 percent among the early-harvest products.
In terms of services, two Taiwanese banks have been permitted to upgrade their China offices to branches, while 13 investment trust and insurance companies have obtained the status of qualified foreign institutional investors.
Despite these favorable developments, we have also discovered some problems, such as the low usage rate of the early-harvest program.
In addition, of the six Taiwanese bank branches that have been in operation for a year and have yielded profit, only one has been allowed to offer Chinese yuan-denominated services. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have not approved the applications by two other Taiwanese banks to upgrade their China offices to branches, although the offices have been open for a year.
The committee should address the situation, which indicates non-compliance with the commitments under the ECFA early harvest program.
On the ensuing negotiations on trade in goods and services, the two sides have so far not touched on substantive issues such as the list of goods and services that are allowed to be freely traded across the strait, although they have reached a preliminary consensus on the principle of market liberalization.
We hope the committee will discuss these issues realistically and seek solutions so as to deepen cross-strait economic cooperation. (Editorial abstract -- April 26, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)