ECONOMIC COOPERATION: Tariff-exempt products include beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit, rum and other alcohol from sugarcane
By Sean Lin / Staff reporter
The Legislative Yuan yesterday amended exempted or lowered tariffs on 114 products imported from Eswatini — the nation’s last diplomatic ally in Africa — under the auspices of an economic cooperation agreement, which yesterday also passed a review at the legislature.
According to the agreement, signed by the nations in June, both sides recognize the catalytic role that bilateral economic cooperation can play in accelerating trade and investment to promote closer ties.
The two nations entered into the agreement to ensure sustainable development; to protect and preserve the environment; and to explore new areas of economic, trade and investment through cooperation and personnel exchanges, the agreement says.
The agreement would be ratified within 30 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
In the wake of the tariff exemptions promised by the agreement, the legislature also passed amendments to the Customs Import Tariff Act （海關進口稅則）.
Apart from four products to be subjected to annual tariff quotas — raw sugar （53,000 tonnes）, refined sugar （28,000 tonnes）, natural honey （250 tonnes） and avocadoes （30 tonnes） — tariffs for another 110 products are to be exempted.
In addition, the tariffs on natural honey are to be reduced to zero within 10 years of ratification of the amendments and within five years for avocadoes.
Tariff-exempt products include beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit, animal feed, dairy products, eggs, rum or other alcohol distilled using sugarcane products, apparel jewelry and ceramic household articles.
Copper imported from Eswatini to for use in lead frames in semiconductors — touted by the Executive Yuan as “being able to help local industries achieve international competitiveness and build resilience against price competition” — was vetoed in accordance with conclusions during a preliminary review.
The agreement could give Taiwan leverage to explore business opportunities with other African nations, the ministry said.
Eswatini’s trade volume to Taiwan is not large due to the distance between the nations, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, adding that while the agreement is likely increase Eswatini’s overall trade volume by a small margin, it is unlikely to affect Taiwanese industry.
In other news, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act （兒童及少年福利與權益保障法）, which stipulates that passenger trains must allocate a certain number of seats and prioritize their use for pregnant women or families with children.
Lawmakers also passed a supplementary resolution ordering the Taiwan Railways Administration to press on with a plan to convert 20 passenger cars into “multifunctional” carriages dedicated to parents and small children by the end of June next year.
President Tsai Ing-wen, front right, and King Mswati III of Eswatini, center, walk into the Presidential Office Building in Taipei on June 8. Photo: CNA