Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

ECFA to continue despite poll outcome

TRANSPARENCY PROMISES The president said he would forge ahead with the ECFA, but promised to keep the legislature informed and make the negotiations transparent

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

“Because the public is very concerned about this, we are very sensitive in handling the matter,” he said.

As the two sides will “exchange opinions” on an ECFA during the Chiang-Chen meeting, Ma said the government would report to the legislature before the ECFA is signed and send the agreements to the legislature for approval after they are signed.

“Thus there will be discussion and the information will be transparent,” he said. “If not, the public could misunderstand and we would have greater difficulty pushing this policy.”

Calling the ECFA necessary, Ma said it was not easy to sign free-trade agreements with the nation’s major trading partners because they were not diplomatic allies.

“But if we can make a breakthrough in an ECFA with the mainland, other countries may be more willing to negotiate with us and this is very important for Taiwan,” he said. “If we don’t overcome such obstacles, it will have a negative impact on Taiwan’s trading business. This is a problem that no party in power can avoid.”

On Chinese agricultural products, Ma said the government had not allowed imports of new products over the past 19 months, nor would they do so if the country signed an ECFA or “anything else,” he said.

At a separate setting yesterday, KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said the KMT risked another blow in future elections unless the government revises its cross-strait policies.

“The ECFA, cross-strait policies and US beef [imports] caused the KMT to fail in [Saturday’s] elections. Voters taught the KMT a lesson. If it does not change, they will teach it another lesson,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the legislature, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) agreed with KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao’s (賴士葆) proposal that a TV debate be held to inform the public about the ECFA.

Lai said the ECFA lacked public support mainly because the ministry had not succeeded in promoting the advantages of the pact. He suggested a TV debate could help.

Shih said many people in farming regions remained unconvinced that the ECFA would not result in imports of Chinese workers and agricultural products, despite repeated assurances from the ministry.

Some underground radio shows are misleading people about the ECFA, Shih said, adding that a TV debate “could be planned” as Lai suggested.

In related news, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that Taiwan must try to sign free-trade pacts with the US, Japan, Singapore, the EU and Southeastern Asian countries after inking an ECFA, as this would ease public misgivings about relying too much on China.

Wu also said that a minor Cabinet reshuffle was planned for Dec. 20.

Wu dismissed allegations that the reshuffle was related to the elections, but said: “It would be suitable for excellent county commissioners and city mayors to continue to serve the public in the Executive Yuan or at state-run enterprises once they retire as local government heads.”

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