More than a third of respondents in a poll believe the cross-strait service trade agreement will bring more harm than benefit to the nation, increasing doubts on whether it would be able to clear the legislature during the fall session, a survey by Cathay Financial Holdings Co (國泰金控) showed yesterday
About 36.5 percent of the 20,846 respondents polled online expressed concern over the potential unfavorable impact of the trade agreement, which calls for Taiwan and China to open their services industry.
The agreement, which the two sides inked on June 21, still has to be approved by the legislature before it can take effect. A special legislative session failed to address the issue due to boycott from opposition parties.
Only 14.4 percent thought the trade pact would bring positive benefits, while another 32.4 percent were neutral on the issue, and the remaining 16.7 percent said they had no idea at all, according to the survey conducted by e-mail from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7.
The finding bodes ill for the agreement’s fate, despite the government’s promotion of the trade agreement.
Of the pessimists, 32.1 percent voiced concern over intensified market competition, 20.5 percent were uneasy about fewer job opportunities and 17.9 percent expected their standard of living to deteriorate, the survey said.
A total of 16.4 percent thought an influx of Chinese workers could add to the problem of stagnant wage levels, the survey found.
Only 13.1 percent said the influence would be very limited, it found.
Many Taiwanese financial services providers are hoping the agreement would be approved to facilitate their expansion.
For instance, Taiwanese financial service providers cannot join hands with Chinese partners in setting up securities houses in China, and Chinese lenders cannot own stakes in local banks until after the agreement goes into practice.
Bank SinoPac (永豐銀行), the banking arm of SinoPac Financial Holding Co (永豐金控), has struck a deal to sell 20 percent of its stock to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (中國工商銀行) via a private placement. The agreement will expire on April 1 next year.
Likewise, Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) cannot enter into a partnership with Fujian Investment & Development Group (福建省投資開發集團) in setting up a securities house in China’s Fujian Province, where Fubon Financial would have a 51 percent controlling stake.
Separately, Cathay Financial’s monthly survey of public confidence in the economy showed a modest pickup this month, after the government’s business monitoring signal flashed a “green” light last month, indicating stable economic conditions at home.
Many respondents also expressed slightly more willingness to spend money after the inflationary pressure eased to 0.08 percent last month, while the world economy was on track for a slow recovery, the survey said.