Wed, Apr 07, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Officials deny ECFA is a threat

BACKDOOR The KMT denied DPP claims that revisions to labor laws and a proposed ECFA would threaten the jobs of 3.21 million professionals and white-collar workers

By Vincent Y. Chao and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The DPP expressed concerns that the proposals were a "backdoor" which could undermine an earlier pledge made by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that Taiwan's borders would remain closed to Chinese workers as part of an ECFA.

DPP Spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said that while it was unlikely that any mention of the Chinese workers would appear on the final agreement text, the government would try and use other methods of ensuring that Taiwan's borders were opened such as the MOI revisions.

"It's becoming more and more clear to us that signing an ECFA will allow even more Chinese industries to come to Taiwan and bring along their own workers. This will have serious repercussions on Taiwan's labor market," Lin said.

DPP lawmakers yesterday also panned the move, saying the government needed to place more stringent controls on visits by Chinese professionals to ensure they do not displace Taiwanese jobs.

While officials from the Bureau of Foreign Trade acknowledged the regulations on Chinese workers would be loosened, they stressed the government would continue to bar workers from certain service professions from coming into the country.

"We will open up [our borders] a bit to the operators of [Chinese] investment firms, high-level managerial staff and experts," said Huang. "But what we are not doing is opening up so Chinese white-collar workers can come to Taiwan. Even if they are here for investment, their numbers will be strictly controlled."

Despite the government assurances, some DPP lawmakers however are saying that the relaxed regulations could mean that multinational corporations have less of a need to hire Taiwanese workers.

According to figures provided by the DPP caucus, visits to Taiwan by Chinese professionals have already doubled from 71,000 trips in 2008 to 155,000 in 2009. DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the figures could further increase to 400,000 visits this year if an ECFA is signed.

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