Wed, Dec 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Resolution condemning WTO downgrade passed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The legislature yesterday approved a resolution appended to its ratification of the WTO’s revised Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) demanding that the government continue to protest over the downgrading of Taiwan’s status under the international treaty.

The nation’s permanent mission in Geneva should continue to press the WTO over a resolution adopted by the organization’s Committee on Government Procurement in 2006 stipulating that none of the nomenclature and other terminology used in deciding accession to the GPA have implications for a nation’s sovereignty, the legislative resolution said.

The committee’s resolution will render Taiwan subordinate to China under the agreement’s framework once the latter, who is in the process of acceding to the GPA, becomes a signatory to the treaty, said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), who initiated the resolution.

To prevent this, the Geneva office must lodge a formal protest in writing with the WTO Committee saying that Taiwan does not acquiesce to the GPA resolution and demands it be revoked or redrafted, the legislature said.

The legislature’s action consittuted a renewed push for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to address the issue, following a previous resolution in June 2009 when the legislature endorsed Taiwan’s accession to the GPA, in which it demanded that the representative office expressed to the trade body the country’s opposition to the treaty’s resolution.

The WTO Committee on Government Procurement adopted in March the revised Government Procurement Agreement that marked the end of a long negotiation starting in 1997 to set basis for expanded coverage, further eliminate discriminatory measures, and to provide more transparency in government procurement practices.

According to the government, the revised GPA will create extra business opportunities in signatory countries worth between US$80 billion and US$100 billion.

During the same legislative session, lawmakers approved an amendment to the Act on Assisting Families in Dire Condition (特殊境遇家庭扶助條例) to allow students from families that have unusual or special circumstances as defined under the act to enjoy a 60 percent reduction in tuition at all schools without being subject to any restrictions.

Under the Social Assistance Act (社會救助法), students who study in open universities, continuing education programs, on-the-jobs programs in colleges, distance-learning courses, nighttime classes or holiday courses are not eligible for lower tuition fees even if they are from families in special situations.

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