The US took the first major step toward a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan on Monday when an independent government agency held a hearing in which witnesses said the political benefits for Taiwan will far outweigh any economic benefits from the deal. \nThe International Trade Commission (ITC), which recommends trade policy to the US administration, was told that US exports to Taiwan would soar if Washington negotiated an FTA with Taipei. It was also told such an agreement would solidify ties between Taiwan and Midwest farm states, which would be among the main beneficiaries. \nThe hearing also heard that an agreement would enhance Taiwan's position in the global trading community and give it more legitimacy as a separate political entity, boosting its international stature. \nBut four major US industries which have long fought Taiwan -- motion pictures, rubber and plastic footwear, textiles and industrial fasteners -- urged the commission to reject the proposed FTA, charging unfair actions by Taiwan and its corresponding industries. \nThe hearing will be followed up later this week when the ITC sends a delegation to Taiwan as part of its investigation. ITC deputy project leader Jennifer Baumert and researcher Michael Barry will leave on Friday for a week-long visit to study Taiwan's economy and trade policies. \nChen Chien-jen, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan's unofficial embassy in Washington, said a FTA would accomplish three main goals. \n"The agreement strengthens a historic relationship already of long standing; it keeps the US-Taiwan economic relationship growing in new directions that also lead to new areas of cooperation with the wide Asia-Pacific region, and it fosters common values of democracy and economic freedom across the Pacific," Chen added \nHe said that Taiwan's policies in terms of workers' rights, environmental protection, competition and consumer protection will serve as a "very strong model" to set precedents for other free trade agreements elsewhere. \nHe also cited the broader Asian region potential. He said a FTA could counter the recent economic turmoil that has beset the region "by solidifying stable trade and investment ties. Through this agreement, Taiwan would become the gateway for promoting closer and more reliable business ties with the rest of the region," Chen said. \nA FTA would open up Taiwan's markets to US goods by ending tariffs and non-tariff barriers beyond the commitments Taiwan made by joining the WTO at the beginning of this year. \nWhile it would also end such US barriers, witnesses at today's hearing conceded that Taiwan already enjoys almost unlimited entry into US markets. \nAgricultural products apparently would be the most immediately affected by a FTA, said those familiar with the proposal. Taiwan would have to end its ban on the import of foreign rice, poultry and meat, and allow easier imports of other farm products now limited by law. \nJohn Tkacik, a Taiwan economic expert at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank, said US exports to Taiwan would soar after such an agreement. Tkacik estimates US exports the first year under a FTA would rise to a record US$25 billion, well over the recession-depressed US$18 billion last year. \nHe also noted the political and diplomatic gains for Taiwan. "The closer US-Taiwan economic ties are seen in Beijing, the less likely Beijing will assume it can take military action against the island without involving America," he told the hearing. \n"Beijing must then see that a resolution of Beijing-Taipei frictions must be based on enforcements, concessions and general good will, rather than threats of military force," he said. \n"This is a compelling reason for Taiwan to go ahead with a FTA," even with the problems a FTA would cause some of Taiwan's agricultural and other economic sectors, he said. \nBonnie Richardson, a vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America and leading critic of Taiwan's piracy problems, said she opposes any FTA agreement until Taiwan clamps down on pirated DVDs and other media materials. She said Taiwan needs to take action now to enforce anti-piracy laws, calling recent actions insufficient. \nNevertheless, Richardson conceded that Taiwan's markets remain open to her industry's products, calling piracy the only barrier to market entry.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up