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Talks set stage for signing new pacts

NEGOTIATORS from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan started talks in Nanjing yesterday on a trade agreement in preparation for signing pacts to increase economic cooperation.

The financial turmoil had brought new challenges to economic development across the Taiwan Strait, said Zheng Lizhong, deputy chief of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).

Compatriots from each side wanted to accelerate cross-strait economic cooperation, Zheng said at a preliminary meeting with his Taiwan counterpart Kao Koong-lian, vice chairman and secretary-general of the island's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Yesterday's meeting made final preparations for talks today in the capital city of Jiangsu Province between the ARATS and SEF heads, Chen Yunlin and Chiang Pin-kung. It will be the third round of talks between the parties in less than a year.

Today's talks could bring enhanced economic development and cooperation across the strait, Zheng said.

Kao Koong-lian said one of SEF's basic notions was that cross-strait relations should be two-way exchanges instead of one-way.

With mainland investment on the island, one of the four major issues under negotiation during the talks, cross-strait trade could resume normal two-way exchanges, he said.

He hoped issues on safeguarding cross-strait investment agreements and preventing double taxation could be included in the next round of talks.

Direct transport, postal service and trade was totally cut off between the two sides when the Chinese civil war ended in 1949.

The mainland has been Taiwan's largest trading partner since 2003, with annual trading volume surpassing US$100 billion.

The two sides have signed six agreements since last June.


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