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Trade organizations cleared to open cross-Strait offices

GUANGZHOU, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- A number of non-governmental economic and trade organizations across the Taiwan Strait have been given approval to set up offices on each other's sides, a Chinese mainland negotiator announced here on Tuesday.

The offices had completed the approval process and would soon go into operation, said Zheng Lizhong, executive vice president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).

Speaking without specifying the organizations involved, Zheng made the remarks during the fourth regular meeting of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC), which kicked off on Tuesday in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

Zheng, also convener of the ECC on the mainland, said the two sides should enhance economic cooperation to get through difficulties in the face of the severe economic situation.

He called on the two sides to deepen opening up, cut limitations and optimize resource allocation.

The mainland will support Taiwan-funded enterprises to adjust growth modes and to further expand the domestic market, while Taiwan authorities need to improve the island's investment environment, cut barriers to investment and actively guide mainland companies to invest in Taiwan, the ARATS chief urged.

At Tuesday's meeting, Kao Koong-lian, co-convener of the ECC in Taiwan and vice chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), also echoed the need to deepen economic cooperation across the Strait.

Kao expressed hope that the two sides can swiftly conclude negotiations on follow-up agreements on trading in services and goods, as well as settle disputes on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a wide-ranging cross-Strait economic pact signed in 2010.

He also called for sound implementation of the ECFA's "early harvest program," which lowers or eliminates tariffs for certain goods traded between both sides, and the agreements on investment protection and promotion, as well as customs cooperation, which were signed in August.

The ECC was jointly set up by the ARATS and the SEF in January 2011 to handle issues concerning the ECFA.

The last ECC regular meeting was held in Taiwan in April this year.