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Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council says no text yet for ECFA with China

Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council says no text yet for ECFA with China

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Mainland Affairs Council said Thursday there was no text available yet for an eventual Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China, but the government would consult the outside world before coming up with a document for negotiation.
MAC chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan was trying to allay fears by opposition lawmakers that the government was going to sign a far-reaching accord with China without first letting the public know its contents.
Lai’s statements followed Wednesday’s announcement by Economic Minister Yiin Chii-ming that he was postponing a public hearing about the ECFA planned for Friday. Yiin said he feared protests by the opposition would disrupt the discussions, but he didn’t announce a new date for the event.
The Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union say the agreement is likely to damage Taiwan’s sovereignty, make its economy too reliant on rival China and destroy jobs by increasing competition for traditional sectors of the local economy.
Lai told lawmakers the Ministry of Economic Affairs was still drawing up the texts for the negotiations with China. She promised the government would first consult all relevant sides before completing and announcing a proposal.
The topics for ECFA included investment protection, trade in products and services, and a framework for solving business disputes.
Lai said the ECFA would not be discussed at the next round of talks with China expected before the middle of the year. A consensus could be reached before the later round by the end of this year.
Both government and business leaders argue that if Taiwan fails to conclude an economic agreement with China, its products will lose their competitiveness. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan and South Korea are cutting tariffs and expanding a free trade zone beginning in 2010, potentially marginalizing Taiwanese goods.
Kuomintang lawmakers said Thursday that the petrochemical sector, providing jobs to half a million people, could be at risk if no agreement with China were signed.
The opposition says that instead of moving closer to China, Taiwan should build closer links with the ASEAN member nations instead.
Government and opposition have also sparred on how to handle the signing of the accord. The DPP wants a national referendum first, while the government argues that since ECFA does not affect Taiwan’s sovereignty, a legislative review after the signing is sufficient.
Addressing other opposition fears, Cabinet-level Public Construction Commission chairman Fan Liang-shiow insisted Thursday that Chinese firms were not welcome to bid for Taiwanese public construction projects.


Updated : 2021-06-13 20:18 GMT+08:00