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President regrets stalling of service trade pact

President regrets stalling of service trade pact

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday he regrets that a service trade agreement signed between Taiwan and China nine months ago is still stalled in the Legislature and expressed concern that the delay could hurt Taiwan's credibility in the international community. "We'll be unable to take the consequences," the president said, noting that the delay could lead to other trading partners questioning Taiwan's sincerity in pushing for trade liberalization. The legislative committees began a joint review of the pact two days earlier, but no progress has been made, with scuffles erupting in the Legislature over the issue. More confrontations are expected when the Legislature tries to continue the review next week. Ma said that the cross-Taiwan Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was a great boost to Taiwan, but added that the pact, signed in 2010 with the aim of reducing tariffs and commercial barriers, only covers a small number of goods. The government is hoping to complete a commodity trade pact this year, but if the service trade deal does not clear the Legislature soon, the commodity trade pact will be affected, he said. The president said that after signing the ECFA, items covered under the agreement have shown growth despite the sluggish economy, adding that some businesses would not have survived without the ECFA. Ma said that Taiwan must reform and open wider in areas in which Taiwan does not have to rely on others so as to make the island more competitive. He cited an economic cooperation agreement signed with New Zealand in 2013 as an example, saying that bilateral trade has increased by 73 percent since the signing. "No matter whether we like it or not," Ma said, the cruel fact is that Taiwan relies on exports for 70 percent of its economic growth, and unemployment will result if the country's outbound shipments are poor. Meanwhile, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng expressed hope that the two sides can sit down to exchange views on the service trade deal after two days of disputes, although he admitted that this will be difficult. Under the pact, China has agreed to open up its e-commerce, printing, hospitals, construction, transportation, tourism, entertainment, funeral services and securities businesses to Taiwanese operators. Taiwan, meanwhile, has agreed to allow Chinese investors to run printing, car rental, cargo transportation, gondolas, beauty parlors and salons, gaming and funeral services operations. The opening of those sectors to Chinese capital has raised concerns in Taiwan, and the Legislature has held a series of 16 hearings on the agreement since last September to address the doubts and build consensus on the issue. (By Kelven Huang, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-08-04 13:22 GMT+08:00