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Mainland, Taiwan sign service trade agreement

By Liu Dong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-22 1:33:01

The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which respectively represent the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, signed a service trade agreement on Friday in Shanghai.

"The service trade agreement aims to lower the threshold for market access for service providers and boost cooperation in the service industry," said Chen Deming, president of ARATS, according to Xinhua.

This is the first time that the new leaders of ARATS and SEF, respectively elected in April and September 2012, sat down together since taking office as chief negotiators on cross-Straits affairs.

According to the agreement, the mainland will open 80 service sectors to Taiwan while Taiwan will open 64 sectors to the mainland. The sectors include commerce, telecommunications, construction, environment, health and culture.

The trade agreement was signed after a high-level seminar focusing on cross-Straits relations attended by more than 100 scholars on Thursday in Beijing where officials called for a great effort to be made to remove political divergences.

Sun Yafu, a deputy director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said at the opening ceremony on Thursday that both sides should find solutions to break the current political deadlock and make fair and reasonable arrangements in order to comprehensively improve cross-Straits relations.

The official statement of "making fair and reasonable arrangements" was first mentioned in the official report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last November.

 "When we are talking about political relation between the two sides, we must realize the discussions should be practical. Any proposal that is divorced from reality will go nowhere," Sun said. 

Wang Hailiang, secretary-general of the Taiwan Research Center at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Friday that it would be a positive step for President Xi Jinping to meet with Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum to be held in Shanghai.

"It will provide a great opportunity for both sides' leaders to meet. But this would require more communication between officials and scholars first," Wang said. 

Xinhua contributed to this story
Posted in: Society