Cross-strait talks to cover tariffs, dispute arbitration

The China Post news staff

Cross-strait economic cooperation talks will resume this week to discuss issues concerning tariffs reductions, the service industry and dispute solving mechanisms, a Taipei economics official said yesterday. Negotiators from both sides are now actively preparing for the upcoming meeting of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC), Vice Economics Minister Liang Kuo-hsing told the Central News Agency. The ECC last met in February and slated its next round of talks for no later than mid March, Liang said. Three work groups under the ECC, formed in line with the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) signed between Taipei and Beijing last year, will discuss their respective issues in the upcoming round of negotiations. Taipei’s economics officials were cited by the CNA as saying the trade work group will study a list of 8,726 products that will receive tariff reductions. But Taiwan has no plans to reduce tariffs on agricultural products, and the Taipei negotiators will confirm such a policy during the talks, the officials said. Taipei will also seek to include LCD panels, cars, plastics products and machinery in the list of items eligible for tariff cuts in future talks, the officials said.

Another work group will seek to introduce an arbitrator mechanism to handle disputes in cross-strait trade and investment, the officials said. The work group’s mission is related to another issue concerning cross-strait insurance schemes, the officials said. Talks about the insurance issue have been going on for some time, and if both sides can agree on an arbitration mechanism for the insurance sector, it will go some way to settling disputes involving cross-strait trade and investment, the officials said. Both sides hope to sign an agreement on the insurance matter when the top envoys from Taipei and Beijing meet for the seventh time later this year, the officials said. It is also hoped that an agreement on introducing a trade and investment dispute solving mechanism can also be inked at the same time, the officials added. The third work group meeting this month will discuss over 100 business items concerning the service industry, the officials said.