Taiwan and China to start substantive talk on ECFA this month.
Taiwan and China are scheduled to enter substantive discussion on the so-called early-harvest list, or priority items for mutual market opening, during the second talk on cross-Taiwan Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in Taipei earlier this month.
Despite inevitable give and take, both sides are expected to iron out their differences and reach agreement eventually, especially in view of the good-will gesture made by Chinese leaders recently, particularly on the thorniest issue regarding import of Chinese agricultural products into Taiwan.
In response to an inquiry from a Taiwanese people during a web video conference last Saturday (Feb. 27), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao remarked that China is willing to 'give benefits to Taiwanese farmers' during the ECFA talk. The remark echoed an earlier pledge made by Chinese President Hu Jintao, in a tour of Fujian Province during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, for taking into account fully the interest of Taiwan people, especially Taiwanese farmers, during the ECFA talk.
However, although Taiwan may be able to keep majority of the existing import ban on 865 Chinese agricultural products in place, it may have to open up market to many of 1,377 Chinese industrial products, now forbidden to enter Taiwan, such as steel and glass products, as China has reiterated the principle of trade normalization for the talk.
In addition, China has expressed the intention of putting on the early harvest list Chinese products with larger export volume to Taiwan but subject to over 3% tariff, so as to maximize the benefit of market opening for China.
On the other hand, items requested by Taiwan for inclusion into the list are products with heavier reliance on the Chinese market and urgent need for tariff cut in the wake of the implementation of the 'ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus one' agreement, such as petrochemical products, mid- and upstream textiles, machinery and parts, autos, and LCD