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Business groups to discuss China trade pact

TAIPEI -- A major business association in Taiwan said yesterday that it will hold a series of meetings in a bid to improve local understanding about a trade in goods pact to be signed with China.

Before the end of the month, the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) will invite government officials and industrial representatives to meet in the conferences for businesspeople to learn more about the pact's expected impact on the macro economy.

The association is planning 14 more meetings after the Lunar New Year holiday to focus on the impacts on individual industries.

Taiwan and China are in talks over the trade-in-goods pact, which is being billed as a step forward for cross-strait business ties following the signing of a service trade agreement in June 2013. Both major agreements are built on top of the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) inked in 2010.

Though already signed, the service trade pact has not yet been endorsed by Taiwan's Legislative Yuan on strong resistance from opposition lawmakers and some industries and academics who fear that opening the economy to China will cost Taiwanese workers their jobs.

CNFI Secretary-General Tsai Lien-sheng said that ECFA is only a framework for cross-strait economic exchanges, and both sides need agreements to build stronger business ties on it.

Tsai cautioned that South Korea, which largely overlaps with Taiwan in its exports, is working toward a free trade agreement with China, meaning a loss of competitiveness for Taiwanese exporters if Taipei lags behind in its agreements with Beijing.

Since cross-strait business ties are a sensitive topic, local business leaders need more information about the trade-in-goods pact to assess its impact, he said, adding that the CNFI sessions will provide a good channel of communication between government and industries.

The government will reveal details about its negotiations with China at the meetings, said Tsai, who hopes that communication will quell local fears over market openness.

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