A service trade agreement signed by chief negotiators from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan on Friday is expected to usher in a new era of economic cooperation between the two sides.
The deal was signed by Lin Join-sane, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), and Chen Deming, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), in Shanghai.
The agreement came out of the first talks held by the new chief negotiators and are a result of two years of negotiations that wrapped up in late March.
For Taiwan, which has accumulated rich experience in the service sector, the agreement means a bigger market to explore and more business opportunities, while the mainland expects to see its own tertiary industry upgraded with resources from the island.
The mainland service sector has large potential for development, as the added value of the tertiary sector accounted for only about 44 percent of the GDP in 2012, according to official statistics. In contrast, the output of the service sector in Taiwan made up about 68 percent of the island's GDP in the same year.
As one of the follow-up agreements to the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010, the deal will impact more than just the service sector.
The deal also includes 80 preferential measures from the mainland and 64 from Taiwan involving a wide range of fields, including communications, telecommunications, architecture, the environment, health, sports, entertainment and finance.
Following the deal, cross-strait cooperation in fields like technological research and development, production and processing, as well as finance, is expected to be further strengthened.
Ye Huide, executive vice chairman of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, said the long-anticipated deal will offer solutions to many pressing problems facing Taiwanese entrepreneurs.
The agreement promises to lower the threshold of market access and will help more small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan to enter the mainland market, as well as enable those already in the market to tap into the central and western regions of the mainland, according to Ye.