Taiwan and Singapore have reached consensus on most articles in a proposed bilateral economic cooperation agreement, ROC minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said August 20.
The comprehensive accord, formally called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), covers trade in most categories of goods and services, he noted.
Shih added that he could not provide more details on the contents of the negotiations until the pact is finalised.
Taiwan and Singapore agreed in August 2010 to separately launch feasibility studies on beginning ECA talks. They met in December of the same year to discuss the results of the studies, with both concluding that such a pact would be mutually beneficial, according to the MOEA. ASTEP talks began in 2011.
Another trade opportunity developed constructively for Taiwan August 20 when Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, executive director of the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei, said that based on the model of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), Thailand could also engage in negotiations with Taiwan toward the signing of an ECA.
This marked the first official positive response by Thailand on such an accord between the two countries.
In his speech at the Taiwan-Thailand economic cooperation conference the same day, MOEA deputy minister Cho Shih-chao urged Thailand to commence formal ECA talks with Taiwan following the coming into force of the avoidance of double taxation agreement inked between the two sides in June.
“Such an agreement would remove trade obstacles, stimulate even more investment and spur both economies,” he said.
Cho noted that Taiwan and Thailand share close economic and trade relations, with Taiwan ranking as Thailand’s third largest source of foreign investment, behind Japan and the US Thailand is also one of Taiwan’s important partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he added.