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ECFA talks set for 26th

China replaced the U.S. to become Taiwan's biggest trading partner while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power but the DPP was unable to establish a mechanism to facilitate smooth cross-strait economic and trade exchanges.

As a result, Taiwanese investment in China continued growing while foreign investors' interest in Taiwan waned, he said.

Chiang emphasized the signing of the proposed ECFA is aimed at normalizing business and trade across the strait, preventing Taiwan's further marginalization in the region, and speeding up the globalization of Taiwan's foreign trade and investment.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung said that the first round of formal ECFA negotiations will not only deal with “procedural matters,” but also with substantive issues such as the proposed “early harvest list” of industries.

MOEA officials admitted that ECFA negotiations are starting too late to help mitigate the immediate impact of the new “ASEAN plus China” trade zone on Taiwan's petroleum and machinery exports to China.

In Beijing, some analysts and experts on Taiwan affairs said the representatives from the two sides are unlikely to hammer out immediate and concrete results at this week's meeting because of the complicated and extensive economic relations developed over the past two decades.

But they thought the ECFA should possess even closer trade arrangement than the free trade agreements (FTAs) reached between other nations in view of the unique cross-strait ties.

They said that the ECFA will render mutual benefits for both sides of the Taiwan Straits, but the terms of the pact may generate greater benefits for Taiwan.

However, the authorities in Taiwan should find better and more effective ways to let the public get an accurate picture so that people will not be misled by anti-China groups that are utilizing opportunities to create political and social chaos in Taiwan, they added.

Following this week's meeting, the pace for the ECFA is expected to accelerate. Some substantive results are expected before SEF Chiang holds a new round of talks with his Chinese counterpart, ARATS President Chen Yunlin, at their next meeting set for May in Beijing.

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