Wed, Dec 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

ECFA winners must give to society: Wu

SINK OR SWIM The premier said businesses that stand to benefit from an ECFA need to show the public that it is a matter of survival in the face of stiff competition

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

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said the government would urge businesses that stand to benefit from an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China to give back to society.

The cross-strait pact is expected to be negotiated early next year.

“It would be wrong of us to say that [the businesses] are not giving anything back to society [already], but I think that there is room for growth in this regard,” Wu said in an interview with the UFO Network yesterday.

These businesses could give back to society by pursuing environmental policies that are in the public interest, such as energy conservation and cutting greenhouse emissions, he said, adding that the government would urge them to come up with proposals on what they can do to make their contribution.

Wu said businesses that stand to benefit from an ECFA need to show the public that an ECFA would help them sustain their businesses and that it is a matter of survival, because otherwise their exports to China would be subject to an import tariff of 9 percent on average. Losing their competitive edge to rival ASEAN countries, South Korea and Japan after an expanded trade pact takes effect would cause these companies to collapse, Wu said.

Wu said the businesses that would be included in the “early harvest” list under an ECFA were the petrochemical, textile, machinery and computer component sectors.

In the interview, Wu reiterated President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) guidelines for cross-strait policies: “no reunification, no independence, and no war.”

This is the only option to deal with cross-strait relations under current circumstances, he said.

“You don’t have the capability to unify [China] and you don’t want to be unified by it, nor are you capable of declaring independence, which would cause a split domestically, not to mention the possibility of danger from an external force,” Wu said. “Only irresponsible people and idiots would want to seek independence [for Taiwan].”

Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長) said it would be detrimental to Taiwan’s development if the administration did not sign an ECFA with Beijing.

Kao said that as Taiwan’s neighbors have been working toward free-trade agreements (FTA), the administration has made an effort to negotiate FTAs with other countries.

But unless Taiwan inks an ECFA with Beijing, it will be very hard for Taipei to convince other countries to sign any agreement with it, Kao said.

“To avoid Taiwan becoming marginalized and losing its competitive edge, we must sign an ECFA with Beijing so we can attract more foreign investment,” he said while attending a forum in Tainan County with local opinion leaders.

“What we should be thinking about now is not whether we should sign [an ECFA], but rather when is the best timing,” he said.

As the government hopes to sign it next year, it will make an aggressive effort over the next few months to promote the ECFA, whose content he said was very complicated, he said.

At the forum, a representative from the county’s Dongshan Township (東山), Chen Ching-hui (陳清輝), urged the government to refrain from acting against public opinion and proposed holding a referendum on whether to sign an ECFA.

In Taipei, MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday said the two sides would not sign or even negotiate an ECFA during the upcoming cross-strait talks in Taichung later this month, but will talk about whether to place it on the agenda for the next round of talks in the first half of next year.

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