Saturday, June 15, 2013

China, Taiwan to hold high-level talks June 21

Taiwan and China will hold their ninth round of high-level talks in Shanghai on June 21 and are expected to ink an agreement on trade in services, the two sides said Friday after a preparatory meeting in Taipei.

Ma Shaw-chang, deputy secretary general of Taiwan's quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, which handles exchanges with China in the absence of formal ties, said the foundation chairman Lin Join-sane will visit Shanghai from June 20-22 for the talks.

He said Lin and his Chinese counterpart Chen Deming, who heads the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, will meet on the morning of June 21 and the services pact is likely to be signed in the afternoon.

If inked, it will be the third follow-up pact after China and Taiwan concluded a landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in June 2010.

Pacts on investment protection and customs cooperation were signed in August 2012. The two sides are still negotiating pacts on commodity trade and dispute resolution, hoping to conclude those negotiations by the end of this year.

The two sides have held eight rounds of high-level talks and signed 18 agreements since President Ma Ying-jeou was first elected in 2008 on a platform of seeking friendlier ties with China.

Wang Yu-chi, minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said that if the pact on trade in services is signed, it would facilitate Taiwan's hope to sign free trade agreements with various countries and advance the island's economic integration in the region.

ARATS Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong, who was in Taipei for the preparatory talks, said he hopes the services pact will help advance the establishment of a "common market" across the Taiwan Strait.

The services industry accounts for about 40 percent of China's gross domestic product and nearly 70 percent of Taiwan's GDP.-ABS-CBN News

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