Cross-Straits meeting date set

08:16, December 15, 2010      

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The sixth round of talks between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) will take place between Dec 20 and 22 in Taipei, the two institutions announced on Tuesday.

The announcement came at the end of a single-day preparatory meeting between ARATS Vice-President Zheng Lizhong and his SEF counterpart Kao Koong-lian.

Zheng told a news conference the two sides planned to sign a medical and health cooperation agreement during the upcoming talks.

ARATS and SEF will also reach consensus on a cross-Straits investment protection agreement - an important component of the follow-up negotiations after the cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) took effect in September, he told reporters.

Taiwan media had speculated on the likelihood the subsequent investment protection agreement would be signed.

Zheng said the deal will not. "Related content is too complicated, and it will take longer periods for discussion."

The ECFA is a preferential trade agreement between the mainland and Taiwan that reduces tariffs and commercial barriers.

The pact was signed by both sides in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality on June 29 and officially implemented on Sept 12.

It will reduce the mainland's tariffs on 539 Taiwan products - a cut worth 93.4 billion yuan ($14 billion), equivalent to about 16 percent of the mainland's imports from the island in 2009. Taiwan will slash duties on 267 mainland goods - a decrease of $2.86 billion, or about 10.5 percent of the mainland's exports to the island last year.

"The tariff-lowering policy will officially take effect on Jan 1, 2011 between the two sides. We expect zero tariffs in two years," SEF Vice-Chairman Kao said.

ARATS President Chen Yunlin will lead the mainland delegation to talk with SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung.

By Yu Ran, China Daily
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