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Taiwan urged to sign FTAs with more countries

Taiwan News, Taiwan

Taiwan urged to sign FTAs with more countries

Central News Agency

4 November 2011

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taipei (JCCI) urged Taiwan Friday to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with more countries to enhance its investment competitiveness. "Taiwan tends to highly rely on China," Kyota Kishimoto, JCCI’s chairman, told reporters after a press conference to present an annual position paper to the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD). According to government statistics, China, over the first five months of this year, accounted for 37.3 percent of Taiwan’s total foreign trade and 83.3 percent of total outward investment. Being concious of the investment risks in China, Japan has reached out to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Taiwan needs to follow suit, he added. In light of South Korea, Taiwan’s principal trading rival, signing an FTA with the United States, Taiwan "should catch up or be at a disadvantage," the chairman said. Asked which country should be on the priority list, Kishimoto said Japan should be first and then the ASEAN, adding that Japan is very willing to sign such a pact with Taiwan. Meanwhile, the JCCI touted the importance of signing a tax agreement between Taiwan and Japan, pointing out that such an agreement can avoid double taxation and benefit both sides. In response, Christina Liu, minister of the CEPD, said the government will continue to remove investment obstacles and loosen related regulations to build a better business environment. "We will do our best to work toward this direction," she said. "For those repeated suggestions we haven’t dealt with, please be patient and bear with us. We will remove the obstacles as soon as possible." In addition, Liu said Taiwan could become Japan’s best business partner as "Taiwan has close relations with China and knows it well." By combining Japan’s know-how, Taiwan’s experience and China’s market, the three parties can reach a win-win-win situation, she added. Kishimoto also extended his gratitude in this year’s position paper for Taiwan’s prompt and massive aid package to his country after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11. (By James Lee)