A free economic zone which the government said would be established to facilitate participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could serve as a “backdoor” for Beijing that may harm Taiwan’s economy, a lawmaker said yesterday.
“The zone could be flooded by Chinese white-collar workers, investment and products if the current design of the Council for Economic and Planning Development’s (CEPD) plan is adopted,” Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference.
The council plans to liberalize the flow of personnel, goods and cash in the zone, where foreign businesses would enjoy WTO-plus treatment and Chinese businesses would enjoy WTO treatment, making them more competitive because of reduced costs, Hsu said.
That could bring in more Chinese white-collar workers and their families, who would be allowed to stay in Taiwan indefinitely, he said.
Chinese white-collar employees who work for foreign businesses in Taiwan are currently allowed a maximum stay of one year, he said, adding that more than 180,000 Chinese white-collar workers entered the country last year and the number could rise dramatically under the new CEPD policy.
The council’s plan to lower the minimum monthly wage for foreign professionals from the current NT$47,971 (US$1,650) level could squeeze job opportunities for Taiwanese white-collar workers, Hsu added.
Because Chinese businesses would enjoy WTO treatment in the demonstration zone, Chinese service sectors, such as logistics, storage and transport services, could make their way into the country, he said.
If Chinese workers and service industries made Taiwan their permanent home, it would make life difficult for local workers and companies, Hsu said.