SEF to sign investment accord at next meeting

The China Post news staff & CNA

Chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海峽交流基金會) Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) promised yesterday that a long-stalled investment protection agreement would definitely be signed during his next meeting with the SEF’s Chinese counterpart.

With the reputation of being Taiwan’s chief negotiator with mainland China, Chiang has led Taiwan’s semi-official SEF to sign seven agreements with the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) over the past three years, including the nuclear safety agreement that was sealed on Oct. 20, and the medical health cooperation agreement signed last year.

Only one agreement was signed in each of his most recent meetings with Chen, as the cross-strait negotiations are now on more difficult issues, having dealt with easier ones in earlier meetings, Chiang remarked yesterday during a round table session with a group of Taiwanese businessmen based in Tianjin, China, held after his meeting with ARATS President Chen Yunlin. Signing of an investment protection pact falls under the terms of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA, 兩岸經濟合作架構協議) that was signed in June, 2010, and negotiations between the Taiwanese authorities and those in mainland China have continued since then.

The SEF pays great attention to the rights and interests of Taiwanese businesses in China, which tend to face more problems than those operating in Southeast Asia, Chiang stressed, explaining that it was due to this situation that he had made more than 50 visits to China to meet with Taiwanese businessmen in China to help them solve their problems.

Among the complaints the SEF often receives from China-based Taiwanese businessmen, 195 were filed by businessmen in Tianjin and 191 have been solved, he said.

Although negotiations on the investment protection pact had been deadlocked for months over a number of issues, including how disputes should be arbitrated and ways of protecting Taiwanese businessmen’s personal safety, most issues regarding the investment pact has been sorted, and preliminary results have been reached on Thursday during his discussions with Chen, Chiang said.

According to Ding Kun-hua (丁鯤華), honorary chairman of the Tianjin Taiwan-Invested Enterprises Association (天津台資企業協會), the main purpose of the agreement is to ensure fair arbitration of disputes, and it is therefore very important to deal cautiously with the agreement.

My association has no problem with postponing the signing of the agreement until the next Chen-Chiang meeting to allow more time for discussion, Ding said. This past Chiang-Chen meeting marked the forth time Chiang visited Tianjin, and he expressed admiration for the effort Zhang Gao-li (張高麗), secretary of the Tianjin Municipal CPC Committee, has put into building the city.

The number of Tianjin-based Taiwanese businesses has increased to 2,169 over the recent years, contributing to investment funds of over US$10.6 billion per year, Chiang noted.