The government should step up economic integration efforts and do more to communicate the importance of trade liberalization to the public so the whole of society can pull together to reach its goal, academics said yesterday.
“Taiwan should speed up economic liberalization and work toward economic integration before it is too late,” Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬), an economist at National Central University, said at a seminar held to discuss Taiwan’s future economic ties with its major trading partners.
Given that Taiwan has decided to ease the ban on imports of US beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, the focus must now shift to Taiwan-US trade talks, Chu said.
During the process of economic negotiations, Taiwan can also improve its industrial structure and related trade laws, which can help the nation move toward economic liberalization, he added.
Talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues, have been suspended since 2007 because of US unhappiness with Taiwan’s restrictions on beef imports.
Tony Hsu (徐世勳), agricultural economics professor at National Taiwan University, said achieving economic liberalization will require efforts from everyone, not just the government.
“All Taiwanse should know the significance of the move and work together with one heart,” he said.
For example, as economic liberalization may harm local agricultural businesses, the government should prepare a special fund to protect the sector as it did when Taiwan entered the WTO in 2002, Hsu said.
Huang Kwei-bo (黃奎博), an associate professor at National Chengchi University, urged the government not to neglect the economic organizations Taiwan has joined, especially APEC.
Taiwan should reinforce its position, influence and power to maintain sustainable economic liberalization, Huang said.
Meanwhile, Vice Economics Minister Bill Cho (卓士昭) said there was no timetable for Taiwan and the US to resume trade talks, but added that they are likely to begin this year.
“We hope to resume bilateral talks as soon as possible,” Cho said on the sidelines of the seminar.
“The talks will definitely be resumed, it is just a matter of time,” Cho said.
Asked if the resumption would take place by the end of this year, he said: “It is likely.”
Alan Tousignant, economics chief of the American Institute in Taiwan, who was also invited to the seminar, praised the legislature’s passage of the amendments on Wednesday as “a great step forward.”
“We welcome this smooth development,” Tousignant said, adding that the US will be monitoring the situation carefully over the next several weeks to see how Taiwan implements the maximum allowable level for ractopamine in beef.