By Kim Young-gyo
A possible free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and China has put Taiwan under pressure to speed up follow-up trade talks with China, Taiwanese government officials said Tuesday.
In early January, South Korea and China agreed to start formal negotiations for a FTA with the aim to launch talks before the end of June.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Economics said the country must quickly move toward securing follow-up trade and economic agreements with China, saying it has “fallen behind” its major trade rival South Korea.
“We must complete talks before China and South Korea do,” said Shih Yen-shiang, Taiwan’s economics minister.
In 2010, China and Taiwan signed a trade pact called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which eliminates tariffs on hundreds of Taiwanese goods.
The agreement, which is to be carried out in three phases by 2013, was seen to have a negative impact on South Korean exporters as many of them are competing against Taiwanese companies.
In its next round of talks with China, Taiwan aims to enjoy lower tariffs on automobiles, flat panels and machine tools. The talks are expected to be held between late February and early March.