Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 14 News List

‘Very risky’ to block trade pact, Swiss professor says

Staff writer, with CNA

Despite continued controversy over the cross-strait service trade agreement, Taiwan could encounter big trouble without it down the road, according to academics from the International Institute for Management and Development (IMD).

The deal “is critical for the long-term competitiveness of Taiwan” and for local development of the services sector, Dominique Turpin, president of the Switzerland-based educational institute, said yesterday in Taipei.

If the legislature does not pass the pact, “then you have a big problem,” he told the Central News Agency, adding that the nation would also stand to lose its credibility as a reliable player in international negotiations.

He flatly dismissed the feasibility of renegotiating the pact with China, as some protesters have demanded.

“My understanding is that China said: ‘This is it. You take it, or you don’t.’ I don’t think China is willing to renegotiate,” he said. “So it’s very risky for Taiwan not to have this agreement in place.”

Political disputes aside, Taiwan needs special relations with China, Turpin said, calling the Chinese economy a “big fish” that is so influential that any country would find it difficult to avoid close ties.

Arturo Bris, a finance professor at the IMD, echoed Turpin’s view, calling it “striking” to see how much more beneficial the agreement is to Taiwan than to China.

The institute also said fighting between political factions could harm Taiwan’s long-term competitiveness.

“Politics in Taiwan are tense. Taiwan is a very political country,” Turpin said. “Parties are very confrontational, I mean, almost destructive.”

Both the professors were in Taiwan to talk about world competitiveness at a forum held by the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會). Turpin met President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other government officials before departing for Dubai later yesterday.

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