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Merchandise deal delay spurs competition woes

TAIPEI--Concerns have increased over Taiwan losing ground to South Korea in China in key export areas due to delays in talks on a Taiwan-China trade-in-goods agreement.

Taiwan has sought to have tariffs lowered on machine tools, flat panels, automobiles, petrochemical products and areas where Taiwanese and South Korean exporters vie for a larger share of the Chinese market, according to officials at the Ministry of Economic Affairs .

Currently, China levies tariffs of 8.87 percent on machine tools, 10.09 percent on automobiles, 5 percent on flat panels and 6.54 percent on petrochemical products, according to ministry officials.

However, the officials said they are concerned that Taiwanese manufacturers will bear the brunt of a China-South Korea free trade agreement, expected to be signed by year-end, while a Taiwan-China trade-in-goods deal might again be delayed.

Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun has said talks on the merchandise agreement might be postponed until September, from the end of August, at the request of China, sparking suspicions linking the request to delays in an earlier trade-in-services agreement.

The talks had been moved from April to the end of August by China, which cited incomplete preparations.

The disputed services agreement, signed in June 2013, has not been ratified by Taiwan's Legislature due to public concerns about the erosion of jobs and business opportunities once Taiwan opens its service sector to Chinese investments.

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