Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Siew urges work toward cross-strait common market

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) said yesterday that the nation should seek to establish a cross-strait common market with China in order to sustain economic growth, despite criticism that the idea is unrealistic.

"Many people say the realization of a cross-strait common market is far-fetched, but we should work toward the goal first to judge if it's an unreachable mission," said Siew, chairman of the Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation, said at a forum yesterday. "I think there is no [necessary] timeframe for economic integration, as it took over 50 years for the European Union to formalize [its own]."

The government earlier this month rejected the common market idea in comments by Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥). Ho said on May 11 that agreements on the free flow of goods, labor, capital and services which are necessary for such a market were unfeasible given the huge gap in economic scale, customs structures and development between the two sides.

The government will negotiate with Beijing on a free-trade agreement under the auspices of the WTO, rather than create a cross-strait common market, Ho said.

According to a study by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中經院), the realization of a common market would boost Taiwan's GDP by 0.41 percent in the first year, with imports rising 4.47 percent and exports rising 1.92 percent.

Another study conducted by CIER showed that Taiwan's GDP will drop by 0.025 percent in the first year of the formation of the ASEAN-China free-trade area.

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