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Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement Signed at the "Ninth Round of Cross-Strait High-Level Talks" and Joint Opinion Adopted on Resolving Kinmen Water Supply Problem

  • Date:2013-06-21

Straits Exchange Foundation Press Release
2013 Press Release No. 25
Date: June 21st, 2013

The "Ninth Round of Cross-Strait High-Level Talks" was held today (June 21st) at the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel in Shanghai of the Mainland. Chairman Lin Join-sane of the Sraits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Chairman Chen Deming of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) signed the "Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement" this afternoon. The SEF and ARATS also reached a joint opinion on resolving the water supply problem in Kinmen. Chairman Lin stated that, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the "Koo-Wang Talks", and that the latest round of talks was also the first to be held between the two sides since new leaders of the SEF and ARATS took office. Chairman Lin also said that, the two sides have dedicated much effort over the past years to develop benign cross-strait interactions and to maintain stable operation of institutionalized negotiations, and this latest round of talks is of further major significance for "building on past achievements and ushering in a new era."

Chairman Lin emphasized that, the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement signed during the Talks this time is the first free trade agreement to be concluded between the two sides on the basis of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The Agreement creates a favorable environment for cross-strait investment, trade, economic liberalization and market development; while at the same time, it also provides positive impetus for negotiations on ECFA follow-up agreements. Chairman Lin indicated that the Mainland has granted treatment more preferential to that of the WTO in 80 service sectors, out of which include the e-commerce, cultural and creativity, transportation, financial, medical, telecommunications, and tourism sectors are all high on Taiwanese service providers’ wish list. On the other hand, the Taiwan side opened up 64 service sectors to the Mainland service industry, such as the Mainland’s much concerned financial, medical, and telecommunications sectors. The Trade in Services Agreement is an agreement aimed at benefiting enterprises and people of the two sides, it is a "mutually beneficial and win-win" pact.

The Kinmen water supply problem concerns the people’s livelihoods. A Joint Opinion on the Kinmen water supply issue was reached today by the SEF and ARATS, and will subserve to resolve the water supply problem currently faced by Kinmen residents. The two sides will endeavor to carry out the Joint Opinion and have agreed, in accordance to respective procedures, to coordinate competent authorities in actively promoting related affairs. (See Annex on the "SEF-ARATS Joint Opinion on Resolving Kinmen Water Supply Problem ")

Concerning the agenda to be set for the tenth round of talks, the two sides will facilitate promotions on the "trade in goods agreement" and "dispute settlement agreement", in hopes of concluding final negotiations and signing of agreements by the end of the year. The two sides have also stated that issues such as "avoiding double taxation and strengthening tax cooperation," "reciprocal establishment of institutions by the SEF and ARATS," "earthquake monitoring cooperation," and "meteorological cooperation" may be included into the negotiation agenda for the tenth round of talks; agreements may be signed on any issue that has reached a consensus. The two sides have also agreed to promote exchanges concerning environmental protection issues between respective competent authorities.

The two sides fully exchanged views in areas such as cultural, technology, and education interactions throughout the talks today, whereby the Taiwan side believes the strengthening of cross-strait education exchanges should be prioritized for the time being.

During the talks today, both sides jointly reviewed the implementation of key agreements signed between the SEF and the ARATS, including agreements on tourism, air transport, joint crime-fighting and mutual judicial assistance, food safety, the ECFA, and investment protection and promotion. On issues of high concern to the Taiwanese public such as repatriation of major economic criminals and compensation in the melamine case and other major food safety incidents, the Taiwan side not only reiterated the public’s opinion and people's concern, but also expressed hopes for the Mainland to take prompt action in improving the situation. The Taiwan side also proposed suggestions to facilitate flights from the Mainland to transfer in Taiwan. Since there is currently a very high proportion of Mainland tourists traveling to destinations such as the United States transferring through a third place, the opening of this facilitation measure would improve the competitiveness of the flight transfer market on both sides; thereby the Taiwan side suggested for the Mainland to promptly handle this matter according to aviation norms. The Taiwan side also presented cases of investment disputes and personal safety to the Mainland side; whereas the Mainland side responded that it would actively assist in dealing with these matters. Furthermore, the two sides agreed to promptly convene the second "Cross-strait Agreements Result and Review Meeting" in the second half of the year so as to thoroughly implement the agreements and thus enhance the public's confidence and support in signing cross-strait agreements.

During the meeting today, Chairman Lin also stated that Taiwan has continued promoting legal amendments related to guarantees and treatments granted to the people of the Mainland, in terms of rights given to Mainland spouses, students and businesspeople, and also in terms of facilitation of personnel exchanges across the Strait; it is hoped that both sides will take seriously the equal rights and treatments of the people on either side. Chairman Lin also stressed that all matters beneficial to peace and stability in cross-strait relations, and also, to the interests and well-being of people on both sides, are considered responsibilities of utmost importance to the SEF and ARATS; they are also the core issues in follow-up negotiations between the two sides. He also said that, so long as the two sides can jointly face and deal with cross-strait matters with pragmatism and patience, and also accumulate a greater foundation of mutual trust, the two sides are bound to form more conditions of mutual benefit, and thus jointly create optimistic outlooks for the people across the Strait.

The SEF stated that, this round of formal talks has come to a successful conclusion due to efforts and cooperation among the SEF, ARATS, and relevant competent authorities. Chairman Lin also thanked the negotiation delegation of the two sides for their endeavors, and expressed gratitude to ARATS Chairman Chen and related colleagues for their arrangements and hospitality of the talks. The talks were concluded today, and the SEF negotiation delegation will return to Taipei tomorrow (June 22nd, 2013).

Annex

SEF-ARATS Joint Opinion on Resolving Kinmen Water Supply Problem

SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane and ARATS Chairman Chen Deming met for talks in Shanghai on June 21st, 2013. The two sides exchanged views on matters of principle regarding Kinmen water supply and reached the following consensus:

The Kinmen side hoped that its water supply problem could be resolved through cooperation between the SEF and ARATS. The ARATS said that the concerned parties on the Mainland side are willing to respond proactively.

The SEF and ARATS believe that that the Kinmen water supply concerns the people’s livelihoods, and that resolving the water supply problem faced by Kinmen residents through cross-strait cooperation would subserve benign cross-strait interactions, thereby the SEF and ARATS shall spare no effort in proactively facilitating related matters. The two sides have agreed, in accordance to respective procedures, to coordinate competent authorities in actively promoting and jointly carrying out related affairs.

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