President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continued his campaign to explain his rationale for signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China yesterday when he addressed the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Taipei.
In his brief introduction, Ma said that Sunday’s debate on an ECFA with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had helped increase the number of people who understood the trade pact, as well as public support for it, without providing sources.
“In the last 10 years, we have seen tremendous change in Asia. In year 2000, we had only three free-trade agreements,” Ma said in English. “By last year, the number went up to 58. Taiwan should not be isolated in this reform.”
PHOTO: MAURICE TSAI, BLOOMBERG
“I’ve always said that we can handle diplomatic isolation, but economic isolation is fatal,” the president said. “We have to do something about it.”
On whether an ECFA would have a similar political impact on Taiwan as the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement did on Hong Kong, Ma said Taiwan is not like Hong Kong, adding: “We are an independent country.”
None of the 12 agreements signed by his administration and Beijing in the past two years undermined Taiwan’s sovereignty, he said. None of them included “one China” or “one country, two systems,” nor will an ECFA, Ma said.
“There will be no political language in the ECFA documents,” Ma said, emphasizing that the pact would be purely economic.
However, turning to the possibility of signing free-trade agreements (FTA) with major economies in the region, Ma said that FTAs had “lots of political considerations,” which made them difficult to negotiate.
The DPP administration’s insistence on signing FTAs using a different name from its official WTO designation had made this situation worse and explained why Taiwan was only able to sign four FTAs with its Latin American allies during that period, Ma said.
The president characterized those agreements as inconsequential economically.
Other countries, which he did not name, have reportedly told his administration they would be willing to consider FTAs with Taiwan, but recommended he sign an ECFA with China first.
“The logic is very simple ... If we are able to sign an ECFA with the mainland [China], obviously the pressure on other countries will decrease,” Ma said. “Taiwan is the No. 18 trading country in the world. It’s also in their interest to trade with us and they will have the courage to do that [after an ECFA is signed].”
Ma said his FTA taskforce had many potential candidates, but would not specify how many deals he hoped to achieve and remained evasive on whether he had concrete evidence that Beijing would allow Taiwan to sign such agreements.
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
Taiwanese worked more hours than people in all but three other countries in the world last year, Ministry of Labor data showed. Singapore placed first in average hours worked among the 40 economies surveyed, with an average of 2,288 hours per worker last year, the data showed. The city-state was followed by Colombia with 2,172 hours — based on 2019 data — and Mexico with 2,124 hours, it showed. Taiwan came in fourth, with 2,021 hours, it showed. South Korean workers clocked the third-most hours in Asia, with 1,908 hours, followed by Japan with 1,598 hours, it showed. However, compared with 2019, the survey found
The US 7th Fleet yesterday confirmed that a US Navy ship transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Friday. “The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey [DDG 105] conducted a Taiwan Strait transit in cooperation with Royal Canadian Navy [RCN] Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Winnipeg, October 14-15, 2021,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. “Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region,” it added. The transit marked the
‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’: The German, French and Singaporean missions said that Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions are hindering local projects and business operations Several foreign missions in Taiwan have urged the government to ease its strict COVID-19 border controls, which they say are hurting in-person exchanges and business operations. The missions made the appeal in response to media inquiries on how the border controls have affected their respective countries’ exchanges with Taiwan, amid growing concerns voiced privately by Taiwan-based foreign offices and businesses regarding the restrictions. Taiwan has maintained strict entry requirements since March last year, generally prohibiting most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, while it has required those who enter the country to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine. Although the rules have been