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Mainland, Taiwan negotiators stress necessity of signing service trade agreement


14:15, June 21, 2013

SHANGHAI, June 21(Xinhua) -- Chief negotiators from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan on Friday underlined the necessity of signing a service trade agreement, which they believe will deepen cross-Strait economic cooperation and realize common development for both sides.

Given the volatility and challenges in the global economy and market, as well as the complementary advantages of the service industries owned by both sides across the Taiwan Strait, respectively, signing the service trade agreement is imperative, Chen Deming, the mainland's chief negotiator on cross-Strait ties, told his Taiwan counterpart Lin Join-sane.

Lin, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), said the service trade agreement, if signed, will optimize the investment and trade environment in both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.

He said it will also liberalize the economy and facilitate the two sides' economic integration with other economies, both individually and jointly.

The service trade agreement is one of the follow-up agreements to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a more comprehensive cross-Strait economic pact signed in 2010. The ECFA aims to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

According to Chen, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), the two sides have already reached consensus on the draft text and annexes of the service trade agreement.

Under the draft agreement, the Chinese mainland will open 80 service sectors to Taiwan, and Taiwan will open 64 sectors to the mainland. The opening sectors include commerce, telecommunications, construction, the environment, health, tourism, entertainment, culture, sports, transportation and finance.

Chen said the mainland fully considered Taiwan's market size and the practical needs of the people of Taiwan when formulating its list of services that will be opened to Taiwan.

Lin said the service trade agreement is expected to expand the market for both sides, stimulate creativity among service providers and raise the economic competitiveness of both the mainland and Taiwan.

Chen and Lin were expected to finalize the service trade agreement in the morning to prepare for a signing ceremony early in the afternoon.

Both sides are expected to plan for their next round of talks and a water program to address freshwater shortages in Kinmen, an outlying island of Taiwan.

The two negotiators also vowed to move ahead with their endeavor to promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations on the basis of mutual trust.

It was the first time for Chen and Lin to sit down at a negotiating table since taking office as the chief negotiators on cross-Strait affairs. Chen became president of ARATS in April 2013, and Lin was elected SEF chairman in September 2012.

Founded in 1991 and 1990, respectively, the ARATS and SEF are authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Strait affairs.

Friday marks the ninth round of talks between the two sides since the SEF and ARATS resumed talks in June 2008 after a nine-year suspension.

The service sector, or tertiary sector, is often the largest sector of the economy in industrial nations and has become an robust engine for global economic growth currently.

The service output accounted for 47.8 percent of the Chinese mainland' s GDP in the first quarter this year, overtaking the manufacturing, or secondary sector, which accounted for 45 percent of its GDP.

Currently, the output of service sector accounted for more than 70 percent of Taiwan's GDP.

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