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Cross-Straits ECC meeting concludes

Updated: 2013-12-11 10:25
( Xinhua)

TAIPEI - The fifth regular meeting of the cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC) concluded Tuesday in Taipei, with plans for closer economic cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan.

The meeting was co-convened by Zheng Lizhong, executive vice president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Kao Koong-lian, vice chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Gao Yan, the mainland's chief representative to the ECC and deputy commerce minister, said at a press conference after the meeting that the ECC will continue promoting the Early Harvest Program under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). This is a comprehensive cross-Straits economic pact signed in 2010 to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the mainland and Taiwan.

Gao said the ECC will continue its efforts in honoring existing trade agreements, advancing follow-up negotiations on the ECFA, expanding cross-Straits industrial cooperation, promoting cross-Straits operations of trade organizations and building platforms for cooperation.

The Early Harvest Program was designed to make people across the Taiwan Straits enjoy the bonus of the ECFA before full liberalization of economic ties between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Gao said the program has already led to notable benefits for both sides.

All commodities under the program became tariff free on Jan 1 this year. According to official statistics from the mainland side, a total of $550 million worth of tariffs were cut for commodities imported from Taiwan under the program from January to October.

According to statistics of Taiwan's customs, imports from the mainland were exempted from tariffs and were worth more than $50 million in the same period.

By October, the program had benefited 216 non-financial Taiwan enterprises and 40 Taiwan financial institutions. Nine Taiwan accounting firms had obtained a one-year license for conducting auditing business on the mainland. Also, 14 Taiwan-made movies had been screened in mainland cinemas, according to mainland official statistics.

Tuesday's ECC meeting also reviewed works of its subsidiary working teams and set goals for them in service and commodity trade, investment, dispute settlement, customs and industrial cooperation.

Gao said the ECC will promote the implementation of the service trade agreement.

The deal is one of several follow-up agreements to the ECFA signed in June, which is pending ratification by the island's legislature.

The working team on commodity trade will press ahead with relevant negotiations. Both sides have agreed on rules of origin, customs clearance procedures, technical trade barriers and trade remedies, among other contents of the agreement. Both sides have also reached agreement on trade dispute settlements, according to Gao's briefing.

On customs cooperation, both sides have made arrangements on exchange of electronic customs data for commodities under the ECFA and mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operation (AEO).

On industrial cooperation, both sides have made arrangements for deepening cooperation in sectors including LED lighting, logistics, display devices, automobile and textile industries.

On cross-Straits operation of trade organizations, both sides agreed to facilitate two more such organizations to set up offices on each other's side, including the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association and the mainland's Association of Economy and Trade across Taiwan Straits.

Zheng Lizhong, in his opening remarks on the ECC meeting, called for efforts to push forward follow-up negotiations on the ECFA.

Zheng said that validating and implementing the service trade agreement at an early date is a priority, adding that the mainland is fully prepared.

Kao Koong-lian also called for early implementation of the agreement and an early deal on commodity trade as well as on dispute settlement mechanisms.

Kao also expressed hope that both sides would deepen economic cooperation, such as in free trade pilot programs.