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MAC briefs Cabinet on cross-strait agreements

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The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) briefed the Cabinet today on a pair of agreements on customs cooperation and investment protection signed by Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits during the August 8-9 talks in Taipei.

Premier Sean Chen said signing the pacts only marked the first step and that establishing contact channels and communication hotlines would be extremely helpful for implementation. He hoped government agencies will approach future agreements with the same kind of proactive attitude so that people can quickly see the benefits of the accords.

Premier Chen pointed out that the cross-strait Customs Cooperation Agreement is expected to improve customs efficiency on both sides, lower operating costs for businesses and curb smuggling. Meanwhile, the cross-strait Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement will offer institutionalized protection for Taiwanese investors. Cases concerning the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople working in the mainland can be handled by competent authorities through designated negotiation channels. The agreement also includes a consensus on safeguarding their personal safety.

After the accords are approved by the Executive Yuan today, they will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review. Premier Chen asked the MAC, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Finance to strengthen their communications with legislators and to clarify any misunderstandings or falsehoods that may be circulating in the public.

According to the MAC, the customs cooperation pact contains 17 articles in five chapters. Its aims include aligning both sides' customs procedures to international standards, promoting transparency of regulations, setting up consultation offices, promoting AEO (authorized economic operator) certification, collaborating on RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, and cooperation on probationary clearance of goods.

The investment protection pact contains 18 articles and one attachment concerning: definitions, scope and exceptions, reciprocal treatment, information transparency, easing of investment restrictions, investment facilitation, conditions for expropriation, loss compensation, subrogation rights, transfer of investments, denial of rights under the agreement, dispute mediation and contact mechanisms.

The two agreements will not require new or existing laws to be enacted or revised. According to Article 5-2 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, the agreements must be approved by the Executive Yuan and submitted to the Legislature within 30 days of signing.

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