Economic Daily News: Remove barriers to free trade

Based on an early harvest program under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China in June 2010, the tariffs on certain goods had been dropped to zero by January 2013. We can now examine the real benefits of the agreement to Taiwan. From 2011 until May this year, China waived US$1.74 billion-worth of tariffs on the 529 types of Taiwanese goods on the early harvest list, while the amount waived by Taiwan on the 267 types of Chinese goods on the list totaled US$170 million. This demonstrates that the benefit obtained by Taiwan is 10 times bigger than that of China. Between 2011 and 2013, the export of early harvest items to China rose 10.7 percent on average, much higher than the 2.2 percent among items that are not included in the program. Imports of early harvest items from China, meanwhile, increased 8.8 percent, higher than the 6.4 percent among other items. Bucking a downward trend in the overall market share of Taiwanese products in China, which was down from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 8.03 percent in 2013, the market share of early harvest items increased from 12.15 percent to 12.17 percent. In addition, because of tariff-free access to China for 18 Taiwanese agricultural products under the early harvest program, Taiwan posted an agricultural trade surplus of US$17.8 million with China for the first time in 2013. In the first six months of this year, the surplus reached US$20.75 million. These figures prove that the ECFA is beneficial to Taiwan. Lawmakers should recognize this fact and ratify the trade-in-services pact with China as soon as possible to remove the barriers to free trade across the Taiwan Strait. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 23, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)