Taipei, A bill to reduce import duties on 15 agricultural and fishery products was passed in the Legislature on Wednesday, as part of Taiwan's efforts to gain membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The products covered in the bill included Japanese yam, Satsuma orange, Japanese white wine, fresh and frozen fish, cuttlefish, scallops, Chinese yams, bean paste, curry sauce and fermented cereal beverages.
The import duties were lowered by 420 percent, which will reduce the government's tariff income by NT$210 million (US$6.7 million) per year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
Following the Legislature's passage of the bill, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Shih Yifang told reporters that as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Taiwan is obliged to lower its tariffs in line with WTO principles.
The government is also doing all it can to gain the support of other WTO members for Taiwan's bid to join the Japanled CPTPP, particularly in light of China's efforts at suppression, Shih said.
The lowering of tariffs on the 15 items also followed the signing of a series of resolutions between Taiwan and Paraguay last year, according to the Cabinet, which drafted the bill.
Meanwhile, Yeh ChiJen head of the Taiwan European Study Center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said the lowering of tariffs on some Japanese products might spur Japan's support for Taiwan's efforts to join the CPTPP.
What Japan really wants, however, is for Taiwan to reopen its market to Japanese food produced in Fukushima and nearby areas, he said.
Taiwan's government currently bans agricultural and food products from five Japanese prefectures close to the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel