On the other hand, Taiwan still has to discuss service trade agreements with major trading partners like the US, the EU, India and ASEAN, and Taiwanese companies are experiencing strong competition internationally from South Korean companies. Thus, leveraging the “same origin and culture” that Taiwan and China share presents Taiwan with an opportunity that is crucial to its survival. Obviously, Taiwan has already lost the chance to use the cross-strait service trade agreement to expand the reach of Taiwan’s services. Delegates from China’s Ministry of Commerce said that China was willing to open up another 10 to 20 items of their service sector to Taiwan, but Taiwan was not willing to accept this and there was nothing China could do about that.
After its signing three years ago, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement has had very limited effects and the assessment of the effects of the cross-strait service trade agreement has also been predicted to be limited. Taiwan only enjoys tariff-free treatment on 6.9 percent of its exports, which is much lower than the 36.2 percent that South Korea enjoys.
These facts all show that Ma does not have the resolve to open up the Taiwanese economy, that he lacks an effective strategy for integrating Taiwan into the global economy, that he lacks sound strategies for cross-strait negotiations and that here in Taiwan, he lacks communication channels and policies. The Ma government should review their policies for economic liberalization as soon as possible so as to avoid Taiwan’s economy from becoming further marginalized.
Tung Chen-yuan is a professor in National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies.
Translated by Drew Cameron