Sun, Mar 21, 2010 - Page 3 News List

ECFA a stepping-stone to free trade: MAC

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Neither unification nor independence can be achieved unilaterally, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長) said yesterday, suggesting that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) insistence on “no unification, no independence, no use of force” in cross-strait relations is the result of long-term observations.

Speaking at a meeting of the Friends of Hong Kong and Macau Association, Kao said public polls conducted in the past 10 years have consistently shown that more than 80 percent of Taiwanese advocate maintaining the “status quo,” adding that government policy takes the will of the people into consideration.

The international economic landscape has been shifting, Kao said, and as countries pursue regional as well as world economic integration, many have sought to form alliances by signing free-trade agreements (FTA) with their major trading partners.

While China has embraced ­globalization, Taiwan has long taken a politically adversarial position toward China, he said.

When Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) proposed that Taiwan face reality and shelve cross-strait disputes to seek a breakthrough and create a “win-win” scenario, he was seeking to foster a ­better ­environment for Taiwan’s economic development, Kao said.

The resumption of systematic cross-strait negotiations in the past months and the creation of a reconciliatory atmosphere have benefited Taiwan, he said.

Referring to the signing of an economic cooperation ­framework agreement (ECFA), Kao said the proposed pact between Taiwan and China would serve as a stepping-stone for Taiwan as it seeks to sign FTAs with other countries.

Emphasizing the government’s concern about the possible impact on local industries, Kao said that under an ECFA, Taiwan’s market would only be opened to Chinese products gradually.

The government will also minimize any adverse effect on local industries by adopting supplementary measures, including where necessary rescue packages and anti-dumping duties, he said.

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