President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the positive effects of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed with Beijing in June are already being felt and that the accord has led other countries to look at Taiwan differently.
Ma said the trade pact not only helped ease cross-strait tension, but also created more international opportunities.
Singapore has expressed interest in exploring the possibility of signing an economic cooperation agreement and Taiwan and the US would reopen negotiations on a trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) at the end of this year, Ma said. He added that other Southeast Asian countries have also shown greater interest in Taiwan.
“Many neighboring countries are asking themselves why can’t they also improve relations with Taipei after seeing that Beijing is willing to do so,” he said while meeting board members of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Republic of China at the Presidential Office yesterday. “Such a positive effect is gradually taking hold.”
Ma said cross-strait detente meant that Taiwan’s allies no longer needed to choose between Taiwan and China, adding that they could now make friends with both sides.
“In the future, Taiwan will play the role of peacemaker, humanitarian aid provider, cultural exchange promoter and new technology and business opportunity creator,” he said.
After Taipei and Beijing signed the ECFA, Ma said his administration would make every effort to expand international participation and sign economic cooperation or free-trade agreements (FTA) with trading partners.
Taiwan has currently signed four FTAs with five of the country’s diplomatic allies in Central America.
Ma said although the total trade volume was insignificant, the Taiwan-bound exports of the five countries had increased 16-fold over the last seven years.
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