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The Commercial Times: Negotiations on ECFA

Taiwan editorial abstract (File 2 of a daily roundup) Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits launched the first round of talks on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) Jan. 26 in Beijing. In the meeting, China demanded that Taiwan open its market to Chinese laborers and agricultural products -- heralding the start of what will be a lengthy and difficult negotiation.
Since Taiwan and China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), Taiwan has not fully opened its market to Chinese products in an effort to protect local farmers and vulnerable industries. China has not filed a compliant with the WTO to settle this issue, as doing so would highlight its lack of sovereignty over Taiwan.
Now with Taiwan willing to negotiate the ECFA with China, Beijing feels more comfortable getting rid of the sovereignty misgivings and starting negotiations to remove trade barriers. Taiwan hopes to achieve an "early harvest list" in the ECFA talks, while Beijing seeks to gain full access to Taiwan's market. After the first round of bilateral talks, future twists and turns at the negotiating table are not hard to imagine.
The "jeopardy thesis" is the most convincing theory among the rhetoric against the ECFA over the past year and takes the standpoint that Taiwan will have to pay a price exceeding the benefits to be brought about by the trade deal.
On the other hand, the "imminent-danger thesis" is the most representative theory among those who hold a positive view of the ECFA. It contends that Taiwan will be marginalized if it fails to ink the ECFA in view of the formation of the "ASEAN plus one" trade bloc composed of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Only time will tell which theory is correct, but it is good for the Taiwanese people to gain a better understanding of the policy-making process regarding the ECFA should pros and cons of the issue can be debated in greater depth.
(Jan. 29, 2010) (By Flor Wang)




Updated : 2021-04-18 02:21 GMT+08:00