Cross-strait customs pact pays off for Taiwan

The inking of a cross-strait customs cooperation accord in August has led to more such agreements between Taiwan and other countries.

The August signing of a cross-strait customs cooperation agreement has helped accelerate progress in talks between Taiwan and other countries on similar pacts, Department of Customs Administration Director General Wang Liang said Oct. 4.

“Over the past decade, we were only able to sign one customs cooperation accord, but recently we have been inking such agreements at the pace of about one per month,” Wang noted at a forum for overseas-based Taiwan businessmen in Hualien City.

So far this year Taiwan has signed bilateral customs agreements with Canada, Germany and Honduras, in addition to the one with mainland China, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“Several countries have been lining up to engage in negotiations with Taiwan on customs accords,” Wang said. “This clearly indicates that cross-strait rapprochement has brought significant dividends.”

Additional real benefits of the cross-strait agreement include unified customs procedures at mainland Chinese ports and their adherence to international standards in product certification, customs valuation and tariff classification, Wang said.

Other dividends include implementation of an authorized economic operator certification system and preferential customs measures, he added.

Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao said the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) has brought about many additional positive economic effects. In the first half, his ministry issued more than 5,400 certificates of origin to obtain preferential early harvest list tariff treatment under the ECFA, up 150 percent over the same period last year, he said.

Small and medium enterprises made up 80 percent of the companies approved, and over half had never exported to the mainland Chinese market before, Cho pointed out.

The ECFA has also increased the willingness of foreign businesses to invest in Taiwan, he said. Approved foreign direct investment last year reached US$4.96 billion, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent.

For the first eight months of 2012, approved FDI amounted to US$3.08 billion, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs expects the annual figure to reach US$10 billion, Cho said.

Taiwan Today