Taiwan, China to resume talks on goods trade pact

Taiwan and China will this week resume talks on a goods free trade agreement after negotiations were delayed due to vocal opposition by locals suspicious of closer ties with Beijing, officials said Sunday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Taiwan and China will this week resume talks on a goods free trade agreement after negotiations were delayed due to vocal opposition by locals suspicious of closer ties with Beijing, officials said Sunday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan and China will this week resume talks on a goods free trade agreement after negotiations were delayed due to vocal opposition by locals suspicious of closer ties with Beijing, officials said Sunday.

The three-day talks will reopen Wednesday after being delayed about five months, but an economics ministry official reached by AFP would not give details. Local media said they would be held near Taipei.

Taiwan's economic affairs minister Woody Duh has said flat panels, petrochemicals, machine tools and automobiles will be on top of Taiwan's agenda.

But hopes have faded of signing the agreement before the end of this year following anti-China rallies earlier this year.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since 2008 after Mr Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan's Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party came to power dedicated to strengthening trade and tourism links. He was re-elected as President in 2012.

In June 2010 they signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a pact widely seen as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation following their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

The goods free trade agreement is a follow-up to the 2010 deal.

But many locals are wary of the fast-warming ties, citing China's refusal to renounce its use of force against Taiwan should it declare formal independence.

A planned pact to free up trade in services with China sparked an unprecedented occupation of Taiwan's parliament and mass street protests in March and April.

Opponents have accused the government of trading Taiwan's interests to Beijing in exchange for marginal economic benefits - allegations denied by the authorities.

China's top official in charge of Taiwan affairs Zhang Zhijun in June paid a landmark four-day visit to the island but it was marred by angry protests which forced him to scrap some engagements.