BEIJING -- Trade across the Taiwan Strait has boomed since an economic pact took effect 17 months ago, a mainland spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Commodity trade expanded due to tariff reductions, while the service trade has grown due to market expansion since the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, said Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman with the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, at a regular press conference.
Under the ECFA's "early harvest program," the Chinese mainland has reduced tariffs on 539 Taiwanese goods, while Taiwan has dropped duties on 267 mainland goods. Within two years, duties on these products will be completely eliminated.
Trade of reduced-tariff commodities from Taiwan to the mainland totaled 6.6 billion U.S. dollars from January 2011 to April this year, with tariff reductions totaling 273 million U.S. dollars, Fan said.
Fan said 94 percent of reduced-tariff commodities exported from Taiwan to the mainland have seen their tariffs drop to zero this year.
In the four months, imports of Taiwanese goods included in the early harvest program totaled 2.49 billion U.S. dollars, doubling from that of the same period of last year.
Exports of mainland goods included in the early harvest program to Taiwan totaled 1.47 billion U.S. dollars from January 2011 to this April, with tariff reductions totaling 38.82 million U.S. dollars.
Under the ECFA, the mainland has opened 11 service sectors to Taiwanese companies, including those related to accounting, computer services, medical care, banking, securities, insurance and film.
According to Fan, six Taiwanese accounting firms have received temporary licenses to operate on the mainland, while eight Taiwanese films have been given approval to be screened on the mainland.
Mainland companies have filed 43 applications to invest in Taiwan and two banks have been given approval to set up branches there, Fan said.
"The ECFA is only the first step. The two sides have set up six panels under the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee for follow-up talks," Fan said.
When asked to comment on Taiwan's attempts to sign free trade area agreements with other countries and regions, Fan said the mainland has never opposed economic and non-governmental exchanges between Taiwan and foreign countries.
"We are against any agreements signed between foreign countries and Taiwan that concern sovereignty," she said.