Taipei, June 9 (CNA) The possibility of concluding talks on a trade-in-goods agreement between Taiwan and China this year is "nearly non-existent" due to delays in talks, Deputy Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun said Monday, even as he dismissed speculation that Beijing has suspended all types of negotiations.
Duh said the two sides have not held any talks on the goods agreement for two months and have yet to decide on the date of the next round.
But China has not stopped all negotiations with Taiwan, he stressed. Beijing is probably still "observing" the situation in Taiwan in light of the controversy triggered by the trade-in-services pact earlier this year, Duh said.
His comments came in response to media reports that the delay in ratifying the services pact, signed by representatives from Taipei and Beijing in June 2013, has led China to call off talks on all other proposed agreements, including the trade-in-goods pact and a dispute settlement arrangement.
Taiwan had previously expected negotiations on the goods pact could be completed by the end of this year.
Duh said however that since the agreement will cover over 10,000 categories of goods and involves talks on rules of origin, it is almost impossible for the complex negotiations to be completed by that time in light of the delay.
He also cautioned that if South Korea's negotiations with China on a bilateral free trade agreement continue to move forward, it will pose a huge threat to Taiwan's ability to compete.
Speaking on a proposal to include the long-stalled trade-in-services pact in the agenda of the special legislative session set to open June 13, he said the administration hopes to convince the public on the agreement so that it could be implemented as soon as possible and boost confidence in cross-strait negotiations.
In March, an attempt by the ruling Kuomintang to push that agreement through the Legislature sparked extended protests that led to the occupation of the legislative complex by student-led demonstrators.
The 23-day protest ended only after the government promised to establish a law that would subject cross-strait negotiations to stricter oversight.
(By Huang Chiao-wen and Y.F. Low)ENDITEM/WH
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