Fri, Apr 17, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Ma ignoring ECFA consequences

By Wu Ming-ming 吳明敏

On behalf of Taiwanese farmers, I would like to ask Ma the following questions.

First, will the export of Taiwanese agricultural produce exceed the amount of Chinese produce imported following the signing of an ECFA?

Of the 1,417 Chinese agricultural products that can now be imported into Taiwan, 350 are exempt from customs payments. Customs fees for the other items will decrease annually. How much of an impact will this have on Taiwan?

The Ma administration has said that the current import ban on 831 agricultural products will remain in place, but is this a unilateral declaration or have the two sides of the Taiwan Strait reached a consensus on the matter?

In addition, exports of more than 2,200 domestic items to China do not enjoy import tax exemptions. Will the Ma administration demand that China make more concessions?

The government has only declared that Taiwan will not open its doors to Chinese labor. This raises the question whether job opportunities for Taiwanese agricultural college graduates and experts will be placed in jeopardy? Has the government adequately assessed the situation?

China is a large source of inferior agricultural products. Will Taiwan and China adopt Chinese standards or Taiwanese standards when drawing up measures for cross-strait animal and plant quarantine, pesticide residues and merchandise standardization?

Since this is a bottom line that involves the health of the Taiwanese public, will China be able to conform to Taiwanese standards?

Although facilitating and speeding up investment is one of the major reasons for signing an ECFA with China, the question remains whether the government has assessed the possible impact on Taiwan of Chinese investment in the nation’s agricultural industry. Cases of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople being exploited in China are common-place.

Will the talks on protection of Taiwanese investment in China truly protect the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople or will they suffer even more losses?

The increased liberalization of the movement of products, services and labor will lead to a vertical division of labor. That is to say, an influx of cheap Chinese agricultural labor might give rise to unemployment among Taiwanese farmers.

The cases of Taiwanese agricultural products being counterfeited in China have seen a sharp increase of late. Has the government made an assessment of how this will damage the image of Taiwanese brands and more intangible economic values?

What are the supplementary measures that will be employed to combat the harm caused by an ECFA with China to Taiwan’s farmers and agricultural industry?

Following an economic pact with China, Taiwan’s sovereignty will likely be compromised under the “one China” framework. Thus the content of the pact should first be reviewed by the legislature and then decided in a referendum.

The liberation of the cross-strait market may turn out to be a disaster for Taiwanese agriculture. If the Ma government does not carefully assess the repercussions, Taiwan’s agricultural industry may collapse. This is not what the public expects of an ECFA with China.

Wu Ming-ming is an honorary professor in the Department of International Marketing at Kainan University and honorary chairman of the Taiwan Agricultural Academia-Industry Alliance.

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