ECFA opens 'door' for Taiwan's filmmakers

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A Taiwan cultural official on Wednesday said a cross-strait economic agreement, which frees Taiwan films from Chinese mainland's imported-film quota restrictions, has opened a "door" for Taiwan's filmmakers.

Before the implementation of the "early harvest program" of the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in late October, Taiwan films had to compete with blockbusters from Hollywood and other overseas films to enter the Chinese mainland's market, which allows no more than 70 imported-films to be screened annually.

Chen Kuan-fu, deputy director of Taipei's culture bureau, said further cooperation between Taiwan filmmakers and their mainland counterparts under the ECFA framework would "undoubtedly provide strong impetus" for Taiwan's film industry, given the vast and still-growing market on the mainland.

Box office sales of films screened on the mainland last year totaled 6.2 billion yuan (about 930 million U.S. dollars), while Taiwan's box office sales hit about 5 billion New Taiwan Dollars (about 164 million U.S. dollars), Chen said.

Huang Yu-shan, a Taiwan movie director, said the opening of the mainland film market to Taiwan would provide opportunities for both sides to cooperate.

ECFA, which took effect on Sept. 12, is widely seen as a landmark deal to enhance cross-Strait economic cooperation between Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

Under the agreement, the two sides agreed to gradually reduce and remove trade and investment barriers, and continue discussing agreements for commodities trade, services trade and investment.

Under the "early harvest program," an integral part of ECFA, certain goods and services will have their tariffs and duties cut before others.

Besides the film industry, four other services from Taiwan will also enjoy preferential treatment or tariff cuts on the mainland, including accounting services, computer services, conference-providing services and research and development services.

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