China Times -- China-Korea FTA impacts unavoidable

China and Korea will conclude their negotiations over a bilateral free trade agreement by the end of this year, a development that is bound to impact Taiwan's economy and a consequence from which both the ruling and opposition parties cannot shirk their responsibility. A Ministry of Economic Affairs study indicates that a China-Korea FTA would threaten about one-quarter of Taiwan's industrial exports to China -- an estimated output value of US$40 billion. As Korea's FTA with China will also give it a leg up in Southeast Asian markets, whose importance to Taiwan is growing, it will pose a two-pronged threat to Taiwan's foreign trade competitiveness, in China and in Southeast Asia. Even more damaging to Taiwan could be the ensuing effects of a Korea-China FTA, as such an agreement could speed up the conclusion of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade bloc initiative and negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) led by China and the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN). If Taiwan remained outside of the two important free trade bloc deals when they are struck, Taiwan's economy could suffer tremendous impacts. Against such a backdrop, Taiwan hardly enjoys any alternatives, but to quicken its steps to rectify its trade-in-service agreement with China, a pact whose passage at the Legislature hinges on the legislation of a bill on monitoring all cross-Taiwan Strait deals. If the ruling and opposition lawmakers could pass both the monitor law and the service trade pact with China by mid-2015, the impacts from the Krea-China FTA could be minimized. It is clear the key issue in Taiwan now lies in how its politicians in the ruling and opposition camps conduct themselves -- will they put their partisan interest ahead of national interests, or vice versa? Whoever hands out the olive branch to the other camps will surely win public support as cooperation between them is urgently needed to solve the legislative impasse over the two major cross-strait legislations. And this, of course, is not a "mission impossible." (Editorial abstract -- July 13, 2014) (By S.C. Chang)