| Global Times | 2012-8-10 1:15:03
By Chen Xiaoru
Chief negotiators from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan signed two agreements to protect and encourage cross-Straits investment and reinforce customs cooperation in Taipei Thursday.
The agreements were inked at talks between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), the two bodies authorized by the mainland and the island to handle cross-Straits affairs.
This is the eighth round of talks between the two groups since 2008, when meetings resumed after a 10-year suspension.
This much-anticipated agreement on investment protection, which was stalled for two years due to unresolved differences, is not only a pledge to offer "just and fair treatment" for investors on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, but a milestone marking closer economic ties between the two sides, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
"Before this pact was signed, investors from the Chinese mainland were restricted when investing in many industries in Taiwan, while their Taiwan peers faced fewer restrictions when investing in the mainland. It is hoped that the new accord will create a much more equal situation for investors," Xie Yu, a deputy director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
According to Xinhua, the two sides have agreed to gradually remove restrictions on investment projects.
Li Wei, a commentator, told the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV Thursday that talks on promoting capital flows between the two sides were tabled for two years when Taiwan and the mainland hit roadblocks on several issues, including the creation of a mechanism to handle investment disputes and rules to protect the safety of individual investors.
However, since then, compromises made by both sides have cleared the way for the signing of the pact, said Li.
According to the terms of the agreement signed by ARATS and the SEF, investment conflicts will be dealt with through a system that connects disputing parties with local authorities and the investment division of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Committee and local courts, according to reports from Xinhua.
Also, authorities in both regions will be required to notify relatives or employers within 24 hours when an investor from the other side of the Taiwan Straits is detained, Xinhua reports also mentioned.
"Disputes are inevitable when it comes to institutionalizing two-way investments. It will take time to work out the differences. The two sides will still need to carry out negotiations in the future in order to build consensus around this newly-signed pact," Xie said.
In terms of cross-Straits customs cooperation, the two sides will simplify customs procedures, improve the efficiency of customs clearance and enhance the effective supervision of cargo for cross-Straits trade.
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