Fri, Jun 22, 2012 - Page 8 News List

ECFA, US beef: More empty words?

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源

It is true that Taiwan faces an economic crisis, but the government’s policies are flawed, its strategy is ill-founded and it lacks the resolve to grapple with the nation’s problems.

Will the US really be more willing to sign an FTA with Taiwan if the ractopamine ban is relaxed? Washington has never said as much, it has just reiterated that it would be prepared to resume talks on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). A TIFA would of course be a prerequisite for a US-Taiwan FTA, but the problem is whether Taiwan will ever be in a position to secure a FTA with the US. Given that the public has serious concerns about the health implications of ractopamine, it is important to know whether, if this compromise is made now, there is a reasonable chance of getting an FTA further down the road.

If the US is willing to hold talks with Taiwan over a possible FTA, would the Ma administration be prepared to completely open up the economy? Even if the legislature relaxed the ban, a US-Taiwan FTA will still be a long way off when Ma finishes his second term. It is even possible that negotiations will not yet have started.

Tung Chen-yuan is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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