Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) said on Friday that Taiwan needed to sign a trade pact with China, but added that the government would not open its doors too wide to China.
Making his case in Taiwanese at a forum on a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Siew said that when the global economy was in crisis, Taiwan felt its impact. Given that these crises occur about every 10 years, Taiwan must find ways to cope with these challenges, he said.
In dealing with the crisis, Taiwan has many challenges to overcome: its national competitiveness must be enhanced, it must actively innovate domestically, and it needs markets abroad.
Furthermore, as Asian economies continue to integrate, Taiwan cannot be left on the outside, Siew said.
“Taiwan needs to sign an ECFA with China. Otherwise, it will be marginalized,” he said.
If Taiwan signs an ECFA with China, investment and employment opportunities will increase, and exports will grow, he said.
“This is a crucial moment for the nation, and we must seize the opportunity,” he added.
He said Taiwan would not open its doors too wide to China while negotiating the trade pact.
“Taiwan will start with the items it needs the most and then gradually move on to others,” Siew said, adding that “we will solicit the maximum benefit, and we hope to minimize the pressure on us in the future.”
He said that Taiwan’s goal was tariff concessions and the protection of investments and intellectual property rights.
“Taiwan will also insist on not allowing in more Chinese agricultural products or opening the door to Chinese workers,” he said.
Siew acknowledged that the ECFA would not benefit some sectors, and he said the government would try its best to exclude those sectors in the ECFA negotiations or put them off to a later date.
Meanwhile, the second round of talks on the ECFA, which Taiwan had originally hoped would take place in Taipei some time this month, are now most likely to be held at the end of the month, economic officials said.
The focus of the second round of negotiations will be the exchange of “early harvest” lists, which refer to industries and services on both sides that will be granted immediate tariff concessions or more liberal trade terms under the ECFA.