Fri, Feb 26, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Trade deal renegotiation unlikely: MAC

‘INTERNAL PROBLEM’ The deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council said he was baffled by Indonesia’s request to renegotiate ASEAN’s free-trade agreement with China

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government would be more likely to terminate portions of an agreement with Beijing than request renegotiation, a high-ranking Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said yesterday, adding that the government is committed to “doing all the homework” before a deal is sealed.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said he was baffled by Indonesia’s decision to ask China for renegotiation on a trade deal signed between China and ASEAN countries.

He was referring to an announcement by the Indonesian government on Feb. 9 that it had sent a letter to the Chinese government asking for renegotiation on the ASEAN-China Free-Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement, which went into effect on Jan. 1 this year. The Indonesian industry ministry said the request was because of pressure from its steel industry, which experienced negative growth of 6.7 percent last year.

“I don’t know what happened to their government,” Liu said. “It is their internal problem and [such a request] should not be a norm. It indicated that they didn’t do a good job during the process.”

Once the trade pact is signed, Liu said, each signing party should face pressure from businesses rather than turn around and say they now had a different opinion.

When asked whether he meant the government would not ask for renegotiation with Beijing once an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) is signed, Liu said he did not want to draw such a conclusion because the proposed pact was different from the trade deal between Indonesia and China.

Liu added that since the ECFA would be a framework agreement, both sides would continue to negotiate until all the supplementary agreements had been signed.

“We don’t call it renegotiation,” he said. “There is no such thing as renegotiation. If we decide we don’t want certain items in the trade deal any more, we simply terminate them.”

Liu said almost all free-trade agreements have such a measure in place, which he described as “normal” and “necessary.”

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) has previously said the government was mulling introducing a mechanism in the ECFA that would allow either Taipei or Beijing to suspend the agreement.

Apart from the “early harvest” items, Liu said they hoped the ECFA would address the rampant problem of counterfeiting by Chinese companies.

Recently, a Chinese firm selling liquid-crystal-display (LCD) television sets, Qimei, was found to bear a similar name to Taiwanese LCD panel maker, Chi Mei.

Liu said the Taiwanese firm must first find out whether its Chinese counterpart was officially registered in China before it takes the matter to a Chinese court.

Liu said he was uncertain whether it was the first violation of brand name in the electronics products industry, but similar occurrences were rampant in the agricultural sector.

“It is important to prevent it from happening again,” he said.

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