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Taiwan still seeks economic pact with EU: official
Central News Agency
2014-05-09 09:17 PM
Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Taiwan is pushing to negotiate an economic cooperation agreement (ECA) with the European Union (EU) to boost its export competitiveness even if the EU does not see Taiwan as a high priority at present, an economics official said Friday. Taiwan has taken every opportunity to express its hopes for an economic cooperation pact with the EU, Taiwan's fourth biggest trade partner, said Cynthia Kiang, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT). It has highlighted the mutual benefits such a pact could create for the two economies, but with the EU in free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with many other countries, Taiwan is not a priority at the moment, Kiang said, citing an EU source. A free trade deal with Europe has become more pressing since the FTA the EU signed with South Korea came into effect in 2011, Kiang said.

South Korea's exports to Europe have surged, and its total trade with the EU increased by 800 million euros (US$1.1 billion) last year, not a good sign for Taiwan considering that a high percentage of Taiwan's exports overlap with those of South Korea. The Korea-EU FTA has hurt Taiwan's exports to Europe because Korean products sold to the trade bloc receive preferential tariff treatment, according to Kiang. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the television sector, where Taiwan-made TV sets sold to Europe are still subject to a 14 percent import duty while Korea's products enter duty-free, Kiang said. According to BOFT data, Taiwan's exports of TVs to the EU in 2010, before the Korea-EU FTA took effect, totaled US$15.5 million, compared with US$11.5 million from South Korea. But after the pact took effect in 2011, Taiwan's TV exports to the continent fell to US$4.29 million for the year, Kiang said, while South Korean TV exports soared to US$75.14 million. The official said, meanwhile, that even without a trade pact, it was very important for Taiwan to develop bilateral relations with individual European countries, and she said mechanisms have already been developed with several of them to resolve trade issues. (By Huang Chia-wen and Evelyn Kao)

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