Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2010-06-13 07:26 PM
China had agreed to give tariff benefits to a list of 500 products and services from Taiwan, while Taiwan listed more than 200 Chinese items in a move which was interpreted as benefiting Taipei, reports said.
The talks had initially been expected last month, but never got off the ground until now amid reports of disagreements.
The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou wants to sign the accord before the end of June, but Premier Wu Den-yih for the first time threw doubt on that timetable Saturday when he said the negotiations were stuck in differences over the early harvest list.
Taiwan’s chief negotiator, Huang Chih-peng, said at the start of the talks Sunday that both sides had largely agreed on the text of the ECFA and on the basic principles for the early harvest list. Taiwan and China had also largely agreed on other items such as measures to solve trade disputes, he said.
Huang is the director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. His counterpart at Sunday’s talks was Tang Wei, the head of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwanese affairs at China’s Commerce Ministry.
During the morning, negotiators discussed the wording of the accord itself, according to statements made to the media during the lunch break.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen accused the government of being too naïve about Chinese promises of concessions to Taiwan.
“No matter whether the economic or political compensations, if the other side makes sacrifices, we will have to pay them back eventually,” Tsai said, adding there was no such thing as a free lunch.
Tsai said the Ma administration was depicting any concession on the early harvest list as a positive step for Taiwan, even though the issues raised by ECFA were much more complicated than that.
The government has insisted that signing ECFA with China will result in more free trade agreements with other nations, even though a Chinese government spokesman recently said Beijing could not accept such agreements as official because Taiwan was not a sovereign nation.
Former President Lee Teng-hui on Saturday emphasized his opposition to ECFA, saying only its approval by the Taiwanese people in a national referendum should allow the signing to move ahead. The party he founded, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, has been waging a campaign to hold a plebiscite about ECFA. The government’s Referendum Review Committee turned down the TSU’s request on June 3, but the party has since started up a new campaign while suing the committee for abuse of power.