Taiwan and the mainland will discuss agricultural and trade issues in their fourth summit in late December, giving a further boost to cross-strait relations. The summit will be held in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung, avoiding politically sensitive Kaohsiung - a major base for pro-independence supporters in southern Taiwan. Chiang Pin-kung, head of the Straits Exchange Foundation, and his mainland counterpart Chen Yunlin of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits would represent the two sides in the talks and sign four agreements, officials on both sides said yesterday. 'Both sides have agreed to discuss and come to a consensus on four areas, including fisheries, farm product inspections, cross-strait standards and meteorology, and double-taxation avoidance,' said Jonathan Liu Teh-hsun, vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top mainland-policy planning body. Kaohsiung is seen as a trouble spot since its pro-independence mayor invited the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit after Typhoon Morakot devastated southern Taiwan and allowed the screening of a controversial documentary on Uygur activist Rebiya Kadeer at the city's film festival. Beijing strongly protested against the moves, and reportedly retaliated by asking mainland tourists to avoid Kaohsiung during Taiwan visits, resulting in a substantial loss in tourism revenue to the city. Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office under the mainland's State Council, said yesterday that decision-makers in Kaohsiung had to take responsibility for such a consequence. She criticised pro-independence forces in the city for trying to team up with 'splittists from Tibet and Xinjiang to create trouble and hurt the core interest of the mainland and the feelings of mainland compatriots'. 'It is therefore a natural way for the mainland public to express their disapproval' of Kaohsiung, she said. Meanwhile, Liu emphasised that the two sides would exchange views on a quasi-free-trade pact that the island hoped to sign with the mainland, but official talks on the formation of this Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement would be held separately. Asked whether there was a timetable for the signing of the trade pact, Liu said the two sides would sign when everything was ready. Fan, however, said academic studies on the pact had been basically completed and talks could be launched before the end of this year. She also said the two sides would soon sign a memorandum of understanding on cross-strait financial regulations. Pro-independence supporters in Taiwan, including the Democratic Progressive Party, strongly oppose the pact, saying it will lead to a cross-strait common market and political integration and will boost Taiwanese dependence on the mainland. Taiwanese Premier Wu Den-yih said in a separate seminar in Taipei that there was a need for the island to avoid relying too heavily on the mainland. He said that with 40 per cent of Taiwan's total exports going to the mainland, it could not overlook the vast mainland market. 'But 40 per cent is already high enough, and it would go beyond imagination if the percentage hit 80 to 90 per cent,' he said.