Bloomberg | Jul 22, 2010
Taiwan may try to reach free trade accord with Singapore, negotiator says
By Chinmei Sung and Paul Allen
Taiwan may seek a free-trade accord with Singapore following its first such deal with China, the island’s top negotiator with China Chiang Pin-kung said.
“An agreement with Singapore may be the easiest option because there are no issues over agricultural exports,” Chiang, 77, chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation, said in an interview in Taipei today. “We also hope to sign FTA with countries in South East Asia and even Japan.”
Taiwan signed its first trade accord with China in June, strengthening commercial ties with the world’s fastest-growing major economy and the island’s biggest trading partner and investment destination. Taiwan’s Parliament may pass the agreement with China next month, Chiang said.
Taiwan and China plan to hold the next round of cross- strait talks in Taiwan in December after the island completes municipal elections, Chiang said. The two sides aim to sign two agreements on investment protection and medical cooperation in the December talks, he added.
Separately, Taiwan plans to ease restrictions and let individual Chinese visit Taiwan in January, Chiang said. Currently, Taiwan issues visas for Chinese tourist groups, not individuals.
China will study a plan to allow individual tourists to visit Taiwan, Shao Qiwei, China’s tourism director said in Taipei in May when he opened China’s first official tourism office in Taiwan.
Tourists and business people from China to Taiwan may increase to 1.5 million this year from one million last year, Chiang said.
The island dropped a ban on Chinese tourists in July 2008, two months after President Ma Ying-jeou took office and abandoned his predecessor’s pro-independence stance.
Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since leaders of Ma’s Nationalist Party fled to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communists.