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Taiwan, China end talks with three deals

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Taiwan and China ended their latest round of cross-strait talks with three agreements and calls for an early free trade arrangement, officials said.

The talks in Taiwan's third largest city, Taichung, concluded with agreements on fishing crew cooperation, agricultural quarantine inspection, and industrial product standards, inspection and certification.

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The two sides were represented by their respective groups responsible for cross-strait relations -- China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits led by Chen Yunlin and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation led by Chiang Pin-kun, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The talks began in June 2008 after a 10-year suspension during which Taiwan was led by a government that sought independence. Relations have improved since Ma Ying-jeou became president of Taiwan last year.

The two countries have had separate governments for six decades but Communist China has never relinquished its sovereign claims over Taiwan.

The talks have so far have produced 12 agreements, all aimed at promoting peace and economic prosperity of both sides, Xinhua said. The report said the two sides are expected to discuss future negotiations on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement dealing with trade tariffs and other issues.

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While stressing the urgency of the ECFA, Taiwan's Chiang reminded its formulation should take into account "the difference between the economic systems and the size of the two sides," Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

The report said an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and strengthening of tax cooperation was not signed because of "technical issues."

The Taipei Times reported many in the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, who are not comfortable with President Ma's China overtures, say the ECFA would flood Taiwan with cheap Chinese products and make Taiwan overly dependent on China.

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