Business leader concerned monitoring law will delay services pact

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) The head of Taiwan's general chamber of commerce Sunday said he hopes the draft bill to monitor cross-strait agreements will not hold up the passage of the long-delayed trade-in-services agreement with China. The comments from Lai Cheng-i, president of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, come after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng pledged earlier in the day to pass the monitoring law before lawmakers deal with the services pact, an apparent answer to protester demands. "It is better that the two things are dealt with at the same time," said Lai. Otherwise, he cautioned, the enactment of the monitoring law could take at least 3-6 months, leaving everyone anxious over the fate of services agreement. Noting that other countries are actively seeking trade agreements with China, he argued that "Taiwan has no time for further delay," or else it could push back the timetable for a future trade-in-merchandise deal with China and even affect Taiwan's chances of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade bloc. Wang pledged late Sunday morning that he would not mediate over any further meetings between ruling and opposition parties over the services pact until the monitoring legislation is passed. The move is largely in line with calls from the protesters, who have occupied the Legislative Yuan's main chamber since March 18 to oppose a perceived lack of transparency in dealing with the pact. But it took lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang, of which Wang is a member, by surprise. (By Wu Chia-ying and Lilian Wu)