Mainland extending investigation into Taiwan trade barriers
Published: Oct 09, 2023 09:13 PM
The Ministry of Commerce Photo: VCG

The Ministry of Commerce Photo: VCG

Chinese mainland authorities announced on Monday that an investigation into the Taiwan island's potentially illegal trade restrictions on more than 2,500 products from the mainland will be extended for three months, citing the complexity of the probe. 

The investigation had been due to conclude on Thursday, and given the complexity of the probe, the extension is reasonable and reflects mainland authorities' serious attitude in handling the investigation, trade experts noted, adding that if Taiwan authorities' moves are found to be illegal, there could be serious implications. 

In a brief statement on Monday, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said that because the case is very complex, and in accordance with article 32 of the Foreign Trade Barrier Investigation Rules, the MOFCOM decided to extend the investigation period for three months. The investigation is expected to be completed by January 12, 2024. 

The MOFCOM launched the investigation into the Taiwan authorities' trade restrictions on 2,455 mainland products in April, at the request of mainland-based trade associations. Mainland authorities said that the restrictions have damaged the interests of mainland industries and enterprises.

On August 17, Shu Jueting, a spokesperson for the MOFCOM, said that initial findings indicated the island's trade restrictions against goods from the Chinese mainland have violated the non-discrimination principle and rule of general elimination of quantitative restrictions of the WTO.

The MOFCOM also extended the scope of mainland products that were subject to the Taiwan region's trade restrictions, with the number of goods covered in the probe increasing from 2,455 to 2,509.

"The mainland's investigation of Taiwan's trade barriers is relatively complicated due to the wide range of goods involved. The original investigation period of six months was not enough, and the extension of three months is reasonable. This reflects the mainland's serious attitude toward handling Taiwan trade issues," He Weiwen, senior fellow of the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Monday.

He, who is also an expert on WTO rules, said that the mainland has long offered favorable conditions for Taiwan products, while Taiwan authorities adopted artificial restrictions and discriminatory measures against many products from the mainland. 

"This not only violates the WTO principle of non-discrimination, but also violates the spirit of equality and mutual benefit in cross-Straits trade," he said.

The Democratic Progressive Party authorities on the island have in recent years stepped up secessionist actions, in collusion with some external forces, which undermine normal economic and trade ties between the mainland and the island, experts noted. 

Tang Yonghong, deputy director of the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University, said that it is clear that Taiwan authorities' trade restrictions on mainland products are illegal, and the primary focus of the investigation is likely to determine the damage the restrictions have done. 

"Once the probe is completed and the damage is determined to be relatively high, countermeasures could be taken by the mainland," Tang told the Global Times on Monday, adding that the intensity of countermeasures will depend on the findings of the investigation.