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Minor downsize to result from service trade deal: SEF

CNA | June 19, 2013

Minor downsize to result from service trade deal: SEF

TAIPEI — A cross-strait agreement on trade in services will have fewer downsides for Taiwan than China, a senior Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海基會) official said yesterday.

Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), the SEF vice chairman and secretary-general, said China will open its e-commerce, cultural and creative industries, transportation, finance, medical care, telecommunications, and travel sectors to Taiwan under the proposed deal set to be signed on June 21 during the next round of cross-strait high level talks in Shanghai.

Taiwan, on the other hand, will open up its harbor infrastructure, banking, retail and wholesale, hotel, and information software sectors to China, Kao said.

The structure of the agreement is similar to that of other international deals, with the sectors being opened largely divided into “financial” and “non-financial” categories.

Taiwan will open around 60 types of service businesses to China, while China will open up more than 70 to Taiwan.

“On the surface, China will open up more items, but it is rather balanced when looking at the items that have been opened in the past,” Kao said.

He said 83 percent of the deal opens service sectors to the same or a greater degree than is the case under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) signed between Hong Kong and China in 2003.

In terms of financial services, 90 percent of the services covered by the deal will be as open or more open than they were under the CEPA.

“Overall, we definitely got the things we wanted in the service trade talks. We also made some concessions, but the adverse effect on us is relatively smaller,” Kao stressed.

An advance team for the high level talks, meanwhile, has departed for Shanghai, SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane said Tuesday.

Lin and his Chinese counterpart, Chen Deming, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, are set to sign the service trade pact during their first meeting after Chen’s appointment in April.

“In addition to the service trade deal, the two sides will also discuss areas where more intensive exchanges will be needed in the future and the possible agenda of the next round of high level talks,” Lin said.

Follow-up talks on trade in goods and a dispute settlement mechanism under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) are being held, Lin said, and he hoped they would be included in the next round of formal talks.

He said the two sides have also reached a consensus on the avoidance of double taxation and financial cooperation, and are also discussing the establishment of representative offices in each other’s territory and meteorological cooperation.

The SEF is the intermediary body in Taiwan authorized to handle cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges and negotiations in the absence of formal diplomatic ties with China.

 source: CNA