Taiwan, New Zealand aim for trade pact: Shih
The China Post news staffThe China Post news staff--Taiwan and New Zealand are expected to kick off official talks on the signing of an economic cooperation agreement between both countries in the middle of the year, Economic Minister Shih Yen-hsiang said yesterday.
March 13, 2012, 12:08 am TWN
Shih made the remark when asked by Lawmaker Johnny Chiang of the ruling Kuomintang to reveal the progress of the said pact at the Economics Committee session of the Legislative Yuan.
The economics minister said since Taiwan and New Zealand announced on December 25, 2011 a plan to conduct a joint study on signing the economic cooperation agreement, representatives of both sides have been actively studying the issue.
He optimistically estimated that both sides would be able start official talks on the pact in the middle of the year.
At the session, Lawmaker Chiang also asked Shih whether the government has face difficulties in talking with Singapore over the signing of an economic partnership agreement, or officially known as the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territories of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership Agreement (ASTEP).
In response, Shih stressed that both Taiwan and Singapore have undertaken several rounds of talks smoothly, but it's inconvenient for him to reveal the exact progress of the bilateral talks.
Meanwhile, Lawmaker Yang Chiung-ying of the KMT asked Minister Shih whether talks between Taiwan and the U.S. on the signing of the trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) can hardly be resumed if imports of U.S. beef products containing leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine fail to be liberalized.
Shih replied that the Taiwan-U.S. talks on TIFA have been stalled for over four years due mainly to the government failing to settle the beef import issue. Accordingly, he stressed that if the issue fails to be tackled, it's still quite difficult for both sides to resume the TIFA talks.
The minister continued that if the U.S. beef import issue is solved, it's highly possible for both sides to renew TIFA talks.
On the same occasion, Lawmaker Lin Dai-hua of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party asked Shih whether the U.S. has offered any written or oral promise to resume TIFA talks with Taiwan after the beef import issue is solved, and Shih frankly said the U.S. hasn't made any promise in this regard.