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Cross-strait economic relations is seeing two big developments ten days before Taiwan’s presidential election takes place. On January 5, Taiwan Affairs Office of China announced that it had decided to open three experimental cities for Chinese travelers to transit through Taiwan. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced that a negotiation on the cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement was to take place in Beijing on January 8.

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Liberty Times reports, Wu Ming-chi, director general of Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), led the MOEA delegation to Beijing yesterday to hold a half-day negotiation on cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement with China.

They will hold a press conference to talk about the meeting after returning to Taiwan. Wu says they will focus on lowering the tariff on agricultural and industrial products in the talks. Yet since the negotiation is of a smaller scale, they are not going to reach a final consensus and will not make public the items they agree upon.

The formal thirteenth-round of the negotiations will be held after the presidential election. Wu states that there is no political implications of the timing of the talks and emphasizes that choosing to talk with them at this moment is to hope that China can provide better offers in light of their opening of three experimental cities for travelers to transit through Taiwan.

Wu also says that the talks will mainly cover reductions for tariffs on agricultural and industrial products, trade remedies and special certificates of origin. Because the scale of the talks was not a major one, Yang Chen-ni, director of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, did not attend the talks; only eight to nine people left for Beijing, including officials from the Industrial Development Bureau, the Bureau of Foreign Trade, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance.

Wu stresses that the purpose of the negotiation was to make both sides more familiar with each other, setting the stage for the thirteenth-round of negotiations after the election.

CNA reports, the last negotiation on cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement was held in Taipei on November 21, 2015. The thirteenth-round of negotiations was originally scheduled to take place at the end of last year, but did not happen because there were several divergences in opinions between Taiwan and China. Taiwan hopes that China can reduce tariffs on Taiwan’s panel products, machine tools, petrochemical products and automobile industry, whereas China wants Taiwan to open the currently-regulated 615 items of agricultural goods.

UDN reports, different from past presidential elections, this time China is offering Taiwan two significant gifts other than creating an ambience of temporary standoff right before the election. This shows that Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, is dealing with Taiwan affairs with more confidence and elasticity. However, it is also noteworthy that the three experimental cities China has opened, Chongquing, Kunming and Nanchang, are just inland cities and the small-scale negotiation was not a formal talk.

Translated by Bing-sheng Lee
Edited by Olivia Yang