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Taiwan eyes mutual recognition pacts with US, Japan

Taiwan will discuss the possibility of signing a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the United States to boost merchandise exports after major trade pact talks resume, trade officials said Sunday.

The removal of technical trade hurdles and the subsequent signing of an MRA will be a priority when talks under the Trade Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) resume, the officials said.

If Taiwan signs an MRA with the U.S., major exports, such as products from the electronic and machinery products, will be able to undergo tests and verification in Taiwan and obtain recognition from the U.S., the officials noted.

As such products will no longer have to be tested and verified in the U.S., their competitive edge will be increased because of a reduction in costs, the officials added.

TIFA talks have been stalled since 2007 due to an ongoing dispute over U.S. beef imports containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a platform for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has maintained a low profile on the beef issue, and has not commented on the recent struggles in Taiwan's Legislature.

Japan MRA Could Be Finalized by Year-end

Talks on a Taiwan-Japan inspection agreement that will help boost the competitive edges of both countries' exports are expected to be concluded soon, an economic official confirmed Monday.

A mutual recognition agreement (MRA) on electrical engineering, electronic and information technology products is expected to be signed by the end of the year after negotiations, which began in 2005, come to an end, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said on condition of anonymity.

Mutually recognized product assessment organizations will help give local products faster access to the Japanese market.

The MRA is expected to affect 358 Taiwan-made items and 454 Japanese products, the official added.

Meanwhile, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang declined earlier in the day to offer details about the agreement.

Shih said only that talks on the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership have been smooth.

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