President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday announced the establishment of a global economic strategy task force to push economic development and promised to speed up the signing of free-trade agreements (FTA) with other countries.
Two days after the inking of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing, Ma outlined his administration’s post-ECFA strategy at an international press conference at the Presidential Office. He promised to make Taiwan a more attractive investment destination for foreign companies who could use this nation to tap the Chinese market.
Ma said the new task force would be established under the National Security Council to steer Taiwan’s global strategy, including encouraging local businesses to develop their own brands and developing the service industry.
The Executive Yuan will form another task force that will focus on attracting foreign investors from the US, Europe, Japan and other countries, as Taiwan should not solely depend on China economically despite the signing of the ECFA, he said. This task force will have three months to present its ideas.
“ECFA may be a vitamin for Taiwan, but it is not a cure-all. Taiwan’s economic development should not solely depend on China ... We must have a strong global business outlook to ensure Taiwan’s competitiveness on the international stage,” Ma said.
The ECFA has increased Taiwan’s chance of forging FTAs or other tariff-free pacts, he said, and Southeast Asian and Asian-Pacific countries have expressed interest in signing FTAs with Taiwan.
The government will provide more information once the negotiations were solid, he said, refusing to give more details.
“Mainland China should understand the necessity of us signing FTAs with other countries. We are stepping up efforts to start negotiations, but the issue is quite sensitive. We believe there’ll be solid achievements in the near future,” Ma said.
Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) signed the ECFA on Tuesday in Chongqing, China. The Executive Yuan approved the pact yesterday morning, and it now goes to the legislature for deliberation.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus have been at odds on whether the legislature should review the treaty as a whole or go through it clause by clause.
Ma urged the legislature to back the ECFA and pass it quickly. He said the opposition was welcome to monitor the pact, if they did so rationally.
“The signing of the ECFA and the wording of the document in no way disparaged Taiwan’s sovereignty or national dignity. We welcome rational monitoring of the execution and implementation of the ECFA from the opposition,” Ma said.
He challenged DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) over her party’s demand that the legislature have the right to revise or amend individual clauses in the treaty.
The president said that would be contrary to international custom becausee the clauses had been already been negotiated.
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