Officials from China and Taiwan gathered in the Taiwanese city of Chungli on Tuesday to sort out contentious issues in the comprehensive Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed in June last year.
Taiwan and China have enhanced economic cooperation in recent years though they still remain bitter political rivals. Political standoff between Taiwan and China eased a wee bit after the nationalist Party came to power in 2008.
In recent years, Taiwan opened up sectors like low-end electronics, auto parts and textiles, and has signed various pacts like daily direct flights between the countries. Taiwan has also been on the lookout for a free trade-like deal with China that would reduce tariffs.
Last month, the two countries formed the long-awaited cross-Strait economic cooperation committee (CSECC) to take forward the ECFA.
Tuesday's meeting is the first since the formation of the CSECC, and will discuss the setting up of a dispute settlement mechanism and liaison offices.
A system of preferential tariffs, which is envisaged in the ECFA, has already commenced, easing trade of as many as 700 products between the two countries.
More than 700 products traded between the two sides, which were on an “early harvest” list that was part of the trade deal, began enjoying preferential tariffs on January 1, according to the China Post.
The Post says CSECC is seen as necessary to facilitate talks on the implementation, interpretation and coordination of the “early harvest” list and other Ecfa-related business.
Taiwan hopes to conclude an investment protection agreement with China in the seventh round of institutional talks between SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Arats president Chen Yunlin in the first half of this year.
The fierce political rivalry between China and Taiwan goes back to 1949 when Taiwan separated from the mainland after a civil war. China still considers Taiwan as part of it and has often said it can’t rule out forcibly annexing Taiwan.