However, once an FTA is signed it becomes a fait accompli, the losers in the business world do not make much effort to overturn the agreement and quickly quieten down.
In contrast, businesses that do well out of the agreement rapidly form a vested interest group that loudly opposes any candidate who might intend to overturn it, putting politicians under considerable pressure.
Still more importantly, the cross-strait service trade agreement is linked to Taiwan’s prospects for joining the proposed ASEAN Plus Six free-trade zone.
China is the biggest country in the ASEAN Plus Six and therefore has the biggest say. It has long since made the deregulation of cross-strait trade and investment a precondition for Taiwan’s participation in ASEAN Plus Six. Even if this in unfair to Taiwan, it is an international reality that the nation has to face up to.
Government and opposition parties have a common understanding about the need for Taiwan to join ASEAN Plus Six in order to spread its overseas investment risk and avoid becoming economically marginalized.
On the one hand, the DPP thinks that joining is very important, but on the other hand, the party is against the cross-strait service trade agreement. How can it justify these contradictory positions?
Unfortunately, the DPP is very likely to slip once again into the negative cycle of saying a big “no” to the agreement before it is signed, but agreeing to abide by it once it is in force. The party just wants to show that “Taiwan won’t let China push it around” and “Taiwan is against tying the ASEAN Plus Six issue to the ECFA.” The problem is that opposition is all very well, but if you cannot do something, you cannot do it.
The outcome of all this is likely to be that the DPP backtracks, just as it did before. This will only reinforce the impression people already have: When it comes to cross-strait affairs, the DPP is all talk and no action.
Julian Kuo is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.
Translated by Julian Clegg