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Chinese mainland, Taiwan sign investment protection, customs cooperation pacts

TAIPEI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese mainland and Taiwanese negotiators on Thursday signed two cross-Strait agreements on investment protection and promotion, as well as customs cooperation.

The two pacts were signed by Chen Yunlin, president of the Chinese mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), at their eighth round of talks held since 2008.

In the long-awaited investment protection and promotion agreement, the two sides pledged to offer "just and fair treatment" to their respective investors and investment projects and provide full protection and security.

They also agreed to gradually remove restrictions on investment projects, create a fair environment and promote two-way investment.

The two sides also agreed on a dispute settlement mechanism that offers several settlement options, including negotiations between disputing parties, local dispute settlement authorities, the investment division of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC) and local courts.

The ECC division has also been entrusted to brief both sides on the results of dispute settlements and offer investment-related consulting services.

In the agreement, the mainland and Taiwan promised to provide equal, if not preferential, treatment for investors from both sides. Each side will treat investors from the other side the same way it treats those from other countries or regions, if not preferentially, the agreement said.

However, the agreement only concerns future policies. Both sides promised to gradually remove existing policies that are not in line with the agreement.

In addition, the two sides published a statement of common understanding on personal freedom and safety issues related to the agreement.

According to the document, after detaining a Taiwanese resident who works for a Taiwan-invested company on the mainland, mainland police will be required to inform his or her relatives of the detainment within 24 hours. If the relatives do not live in the mainland, police should inform the detainee's employer. The same rules will be applied to Taiwanese police.

Judicial departments on both sides are also required to inform each other about such events as soon as possible, according to the agreement.

In terms of cross-Strait customs cooperation, the two sides will simplify customs procedures, improve the efficiency of customs clearance and enhance the effective supervision of cargo for cross-Strait trade in order to facilitate the implementation of Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

The agreement also aims to boost the convenience and safety of cross-Strait trade, the application of information technology and the development of paperless customs clearance.

The two sides will communicate and cooperate regarding the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in customs supervision and the investigation of smuggling through information sharing, according to the agreement.

A workgroup under the cross-Strait economic cooperation committee is responsible for handling related issues concerning the agreement and customs cooperation in general.

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