Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 1 News List

'Opt out' clause mulled for ECFA: MOEA chief

AFTER ALL THE ANALYSISYiin Chii-ming said the pact with China could add 1.374 percentage points to GDP growth, adding that an exit mechanism could be added

By Elizabeth Tchii and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

MAC Vice Chairman Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成) told the forum that signing an ECFA with China was a necessary step to normalize cross-strait trade relations.

However, Fu said the country needed more than a trade pact with China.

“Grander vision and better action plans are required for Taiwan's long-term economic development. An ECFA with China is not enough,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday welcomed public input about an ECFA with China, saying the more opinions that were voiced, the better the government could serve public interest.

Ma said he realized there were different opinions regarding the ECFA, with some expressing concern over its potential negative impact on traditional industries.

He encouraged the public to “speak without reserve,” adding that he paid equal attention to both the high-tech and traditional industries.

“The more opinions, the better the job the government will do,” he said while visiting Hsilo Township (西螺), Yunlin County, where he held talks with young people as part of an activity to encourage young people to return to their hometown to work.

Protesters from different townships held banners along the route taken by Ma's motorcade. They urged the government to pay attention to their plight and address the problem at Chuoshui River (濁水溪), which has long been plagued by drifting sand.

Ma is bent on forging ahead with the accord and hopes to see concrete results by the end of the year. He has also ruled out holding a referendum on whether to sign the agreement, saying it was costly and took time to publicize.

While Ma said he would like to see both sides discuss the accord during the third cross-strait talks scheduled for the first half of this year, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said it was still awaiting MAC authorization to discuss the issue with Beijing.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said that Ma is not qualified to be president of the country because of his stubbornness in signing an ECFA with China despite strong opposition from the public.

Bowing to mounting pressure, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) has vowed that the government would be cautious in pursuing the agreement with China, adding that the government would not negotiate an ECFA under a political framework set out by Beijing.

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