Oct 26, 2011

Taiwan: New Zealand Takes Steps towards Trade Agreement

In the course of ongoing official discussion, Wellington and Taipei have decided to conduct individual investigations to determine the viability of economic cooperation.  New Zealand is the second country since June 2010 to consider economic ties with the island nation.

Below is an article published by Taipei Times:

Taiwan and New Zealand have agreed to begin feasibility studies on the possibility of an economic cooperation agreement, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday [25 October 2010].

An agreement was reached yesterday between the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington and the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei that both sides will separately carry out feasibility studies to gauge the economic impact if an agreement is signed, the ministry said.

The studies are expected to be completed in less than a year, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) told reporters.

That makes New Zealand the second country after Singapore to examine the possibility of an economic agreement since June last year [2010].

Taiwan and Singapore have completed feasibility studies and have now begun formal negotiations on a trade pact, the minister said, adding that negotiations are still ongoing.

With warmer cross-strait ties, Taiwan is aggressively pursuing trade pacts with other countries.

Indonesia, India and the Philippines have expressed interest in signing economic deals with Taiwan, but have not entered into official talks.

According to Shih, signing an economic cooperation agreement would not only reduce tariffs, but also serve as a catalyst to boost mutual investment activities.

He said Taiwan and New Zealand could explore collaboration in investments such as green energy, film production and agricultural biotechnology after signing an agreement.

Taiwan mainly exports machinery components, panels, notebooks, gasoline, bicycles and wireless transmission equipment to New Zealand, whereas New Zealand exports beef, dairy products, kiwi fruit, apples and aluminum to Taiwan, according to the ministry.

Tariffs on some of these products are expected to be cut if both sides sign a trade pact.

Taiwan was New Zealand’s eighth-largest export market last year [2010], exporting US$610 million in goods to Taiwan. Taiwan exported US$470 million in goods to New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) yesterday said the ministry was continuing to lobby the EU in the hope of signing an economic cooperation agreement as soon as possible.

He made the remarks after holding talks with European Commission Deputy Director-General for Trade Joao Aguiar Machado.

Lin said the EU agreed to deepen trade ties with Taiwan, but signing a trade deal would be a mid to long-term issue to work toward and both sides would continue exploring the possibility.