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Taiwan, trade partners 'have final say' on FTAs, says minister

Chiang says that the agreement does not permit laborers from China into Taiwan

Taiwan, trade partners  'have final say' on FTAs, says minister

Any future free trade agreements (FTAs) Taiwan wants to sign with its trading partners should be solely up to the two parties concerned, Government Information Office Minister Johnny Chiang said in an interview with a U.S. think tank publicized Friday.
"It is hard to deny that Beijing won't have any political influence, " he said when asked if China could interfere in such deals, but "no matter what, a free trade deal is still a matter that should be decided between Taiwan and its trading partners. They have the final say."
Effects questioned
The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations questioned Chiang on July 14 about the effects of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China on June 29.
On concerns that the tariff-reducing measures on the deal could have a negative impact on some of Taiwan's industries, Chiang said that Taiwan's vulnerable industries, such as agricultural products, were excluded from the measures. He added that the agreement does not permit laborers from China into Taiwan.
Asked about the United States' arms sales to Taiwan, Chiang said the ultimate goal of Taiwan's security policy is to defend itself.
The arms provide a "credible deterrence to prevent any miscalculation that could lead to armed conflict" in the region, amid China's deployment of missiles aimed at Taiwan and Beijing's modernization of both its missile forces and amphibious assault capabilities, Chiang said.
Political dialogue
Chiang also said Taiwan has no plans to discuss a political or "peace" settlement with China in the near future, but added that "a credible deterrence would be a very important precondition for Taiwan to negotiate or [engage in political] dialogue with Beijing, and it will at the same time increase the confidence of the Taiwan public."
The ECFA aims to bring the two economies closer and is largely seen as a sign of improving relations across the strait. The agreement slashes tariffs on a wide range of products and allows Taiwanese companies to invest in Chinese service sectors.
Chiang arrived in New York last week to speak with U.S. think tanks and media outlets on the landmark agreement. He traveled to Washington D.C. Thursday, where he met representatives of the Brookings Institution and media outlets including Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Voice of America.