Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Pact unfair to local publishers: group

OPAQUE?A backlash from local publishing and printing industries to the cross-strait service trade pact has seen the government accused of lacking transparency

Staff writer, with CNA

A local industry group said yesterday that the proposed cross-strait service trade pact poses a threat to Taiwanese publishers.

Chen Shu-wan (陳淑婉), secretary-general of the Magazine Business Association of Taipei, said Chinese media outlets would be able to enter the local publishing sector, despite not being allowed to operate in Taiwan.

The service trade pact, which was signed in Shanghai on Friday, but has yet to be ratified, would allow Chinese companies to obtain a stake of no more than 50 percent in Taiwanese printing service providers. China made similar promises regarding opening its printing sector to Taiwanese companies.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Bill Cho (卓士昭) said on Friday that Taiwan only promised to partially open the printing business, while the publishing sector remains closed to Chinese companies.

However, Chen said a Chinese company could have publications printed and distributed in Taiwan without a local publisher, since such work could be done by a Taiwanese printing service provider.

This would open up Taiwan’s publishing sector to competition from Chinese firms, even though Taiwan did not agree to this when negotiating the pact, Chen said.

By contrast, China’s censorship prevents Taiwanese publishers from distributing publications without regulatory approval in this way.

Therefore, the association issued a statement saying the government should reject the pact as unfair, while chairman, Simon Hung (洪善群), called for transparency in government decisionmaking.

Compared with other service industries, backlash from the local publishing and printing industries is especially strong, with companies blaming the government for failing to communicate fully with them before striking a deal with China.

In his personal blog on Friday, Rex How (郝明義), a national policy advisor to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and chairman of Locus Publishing Co (大塊文化), accused the government of lacking transparency and ignoring the needs of local industries by signing the trade pact.

Taiwan Printing Industry Association secretary-general Hsu Wei-hung (徐維宏) said yesterday the pact does not offer a level playing field for Taiwanese printers.

Hsu said the pact allows Chinese printers to print any material they want in Taiwan, because the Publication Act (出版法) was abolished in 1999. However, Taiwanese printers wanting to print books in China must obtain a “book printing certificate” from Chinese authorities and would only be allowed to print packaging material and flyers in China without it.

The Bureau of Foreign Trade said in a statement on Friday that under the trade pact, Taiwan has not agreed to fully open its printing industry to Chinese investors.

Chinese investors are only to be allowed to form joint ventures with Taiwanese printers and hold a stake of less than 50 percent in such ventures, the bureau said.

However, sources in the print industry said it would not be hard for Chinese investors to secure ownership of a venture if they put their capital in different companies with a combined shareholding of more than 50 percent in the venture.

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