2010/07/23

Taiwan eyes closer Japan trade ties after China pact

TAIPEI, July 23, 2010 (AFP) - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday he hoped to boost economic ties with Japan, following the recent signing of a major trade pact with China.

"We hope to cooperate with Japan in the areas of trade and economy to further boost our ties after the signing of ECFA," a statement from Ma's office quoted him as saying while meeting a delegation of Japanese politicians.

He was referring to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, the most sweeping ever between Taiwan and the mainland, which marked the culmination of Ma's Beijing-friendly policy.

Ma had also said Taiwan was eyeing a free trade agreement with Japan, its second largest trading partner after China.

Taiwan's minister without portfolio, Yiin Chii-ming, is due to leave for Japan on Sunday to kick off a government initiative to attract more overseas investment.

Yiin told reporters that he was scheduled to meet executives from leading Japanese corporations such as Sony, Mitsubishi and Hitachi in the hope that Taiwan and Japan can "jointly explore the mainland market."

Japan, like most countries, officially recognises Beijing instead of Taipei, but Taiwan maintains friendly relations with Japan.

Taiwan has assured Japan it has nothing to fear over the island's warming ties with China, which it split from in 1949 after a civil war.

The Japanese chamber of commerce in Taipei has called for a free trade agreement with the island and supported Taiwan's trade pact with China, saying it could benefit Japanese businesses on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.