President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s “MIT (Made in Taiwan) Smiley Certification” policy came under heavy criticism after it was found that only products approved for inspection by the Ministry of Economic Affairs are eligible for the certification.
The policy was implemented last year to distinguish products that are made in Taiwan from those made in China in the domestic market following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in late June.
The cross-strait economic pact, which came into force last year, and its “early harvest” list, implemented on Jan. 1, lowers tariff on hundreds of products traded across the Taiwan Strait.
The first clause in the Industry Development Bureau’s (IDB) MIT Smiley Certification Inspection Methods says that the certification was designed to help consumers choose qualitatively superior MIT products.
The second clause said participation in the certification program was voluntary and the IDB would employ neutral professional organizations to conduct inspections.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) accused the Ma administration of only allowing a portion of MIT products to apply for inspection, and said that the government was deceiving the public by limiting applications for MIT certification.
“If the government really wants to help Taiwanese industry, it shouldn’t just pick [products] that are convenient,” Wong said.
Ho Chen-kuan (侯振寬), president of kitchenware maker Jyethelih, said only dish driers could be submitted for certification, because other types of kitchenware were not on the IDB list.
The IDB list of household electrical appliances that qualify for certification includes fans, air conditioners, dish driers, solar-powered water heaters, blenders, ceiling fans, washers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, tankless electric water heaters, water dispensers, electrical ovens, rice cookers and electric cookers.
However, heaters, gas stoves, microwave ovens and other appliances are not included, even if they are made in Taiwan.
Other industries have voiced complaints. Line screens manufacturer Chen A-nan (陳阿南) said that while his line screens were 100 percent manufactured in Changhua, he could not apply for certification because the ministry’s list — which includes assorted clothes, towels, socks, underwear and sweaters — did not contain window blinds.
“If the government wants MIT products to make any headway in the exports markets, it should be helping us, not limiting our rights to apply,” Chen said.
Tsai Ching-kun (蔡景坤), owner of Chu Lun Industrial Co, said a friend of his, who is a manufacturer of bicycle pedals, could not apply for certification because the IDB did not have inspections for that sector.
“With most bicycle companies now operating in China, you would think the government would be helping us rather than making it impossible for us to apply,” Tsai said.