March 18, 2014 / 1:31 AM / 5 years ago

Taiwan passes first stage of China trade deal: reports

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou gestures during an interview with international news agencies in Tegucigalpa, January 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A crucial trade deal between China and Taiwan has passed the first hurdle in Taiwan’s parliament despite opposition party concerns about Beijing’s growing influence on the Taiwanese economy, media reported on Tuesday.

The ruling Nationalist Party said an initial review of the pact had been completed, which could pave the way for a final review in parliament on April 8, the Commercial Times and the China Times reported.

The reports said the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has vowed to protect Taiwan’s economy from excessive Chinese influence, would vote against the deal although it lacks the numbers to block its final passage.

Mainland China is the island’s biggest trading partner and the two sides have signed a slew of agreements on everything from transport to tourism since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

Under the latest trade pact, China will open 80 of its service sectors to Taiwanese companies, while Taiwan will allow mainland investment in 64 sectors.

The DPP says the pact will hurt small service companies and damage the Taiwanese economy.

Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Stephen Coates

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