Taiwan-China deal "to cut tariffs on 500 items"
TAIPEI June 13 (Reuters) - Some 500 Taiwanese petrochemical, machinery, auto parts and textile products will be among the first to benefit from tariff cuts under a trade deal with China, Taiwan newspapers reported on Sunday 13 June.
Wang's comments, which the reports said were made at a Saturday 12 June evening function ahead of Sunday 13 June's talks, are the clearest confirmation yet of the content of the deal and the timing of the signing, both the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks.
The reports said the tariff reductions for petrochemical products could be about 60 percent and those for textiles 80 percent.
Together all the items on the initial list for reductions, dubbed the "early harvest list", account for some 15 percent of Taiwan's exports to China, they said.
Taiwan's Premier Wu Den-yih had estimated in an interview with Reuters last month that some 300 items would make the list.
Taiwan is banking on ECFA opening doors to trade deals with other major economies such as Japan, the United States and Southeast Asian nations, allowing its export-reliant $390 billion economy to stay competitive with regional rivals.
The deal's critics fear a flood of cheap Chinese imports could destroy Taiwan's economy, and see the deal opening the way for a political takeover by erstwhile foe China.
After the latest talks on the ECFA on Sunday 13 June, China's official Xinhua news agency said the two sides "reached a basic consensus" on the text of the agreement. They would settle on a list of goods and services to benefit from the "early harvest" plan in subsequent discussions.
The Taiwanese government's attempt to sell the deal to a sceptical public had taken a hit earlier this month when a Chinese official was quoted as saying it would not allow its allies to sign separate deals with Taiwan after ECFA.
But the island's lead negotiator on the China trade deal, Chiang Pin-kung, told Reuters in an interview on Friday 11 June that the comments should not be "over-interpreted".
He also said he could not estimate when it would be signed.