Pilot zones bill review postponed

CREATING JOBS::The Council of Agriculture defended the bill to set up the free economic pilot zones after claims the policy would hurt the agricultural sector

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 07, 2014 - Page 13

A joint session of the legislature’s Internal Administration, Economics and Finance committees yesterday decided to postpone the review of a draft bill on establishing the free economic pilot zones until after five public hearings have been held later this month.

The ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will be responsible for holding three hearings, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will hold two hearings, according to a resolution passed by the committee.

The draft bill will then undergo a line-by-line review by relevant committees, the resolution stated.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said the ruling party should not hastily arrange the review until the public fully understands the pros and cons of establishing the zones.

“Although we are not firmly against the pilot zones, we believe the bill should be thoroughly examined to avoid the potential destruction of local industries,” Huang said.

In response to a claim that the pilot zones would hurt the agricultural sector, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said the policy would allow companies to ship agricultural goods from China to the zones and process them, but stressed that these goods cannot enter the Taiwanese market before being processed.

The policy would allow companies to ship 10 percent of the end products processed in the zones to Taiwan if the products are allowed to be imported based on current laws.

Although peanuts from China are not allowed to enter Taiwan, companies would be permitted to ship Chinese peanuts to the pilot zones and process them, Chen said, adding that these companies would then be allowed to ship 10 percent of the peanut butter to the Taiwanese market because Chinese peanut butter is allowed to be imported.

“The point of this policy is to encourage companies to move their food processing operations to Taiwan from China to create more jobs,” Chen said.