Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

‘Free Economic Trade Zones’ favor China, likely to increase dependence: lawmakers

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Pan-green lawmakers yesterday expressed concern over the government’s plan to establish “Free Economic Pilot Zones” to promote trade liberalization, saying that the zones could increase the nation’s economic dependence on China and hurt Taiwan’s competitiveness.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference that the relaxation of regulations on investment and personnel in the proposed zones appeared to be tailor-made for China, which has been eyeing a way of annexing Taiwan — economic integration.

While the regulations in the zones apply to all foreign businesses, Hsu said China is expected to be the top source of incoming products, investment and workers, which would spell “double trouble” for Taiwan.

An influx of Chinese white-collar workers could squeeze job opportunities for Taiwanese and opening up to Chinese agricultural products would raise food safety concerns, Hsu said.

The unilateral opening up to foreign medical professionals — up to 20 percent of the medical workforce in the pilot zones — and too many tax incentives offered to foreign professionals and businesses were also points of concern, Hsu said.

In addition, the government, which is plagued by financial woes, was likely to see huge tax losses, he said.

With Chinese investors allowed to be majority shareholders, Taiwan’s high-tech know-how could end up in the hands of Chinese firms, he said.

“At the end of the day, Chinese investment in Taiwan represented more than just economic interests, but also conveys Beijing’s political motives, which wants to increase Taiwan’s economic dependency on China,” Hsu said.

In response, Lin Shu-chia (林旭佳), a section chief at the Council of Economic Planning and Development, said that no blue-collar workers would be employed in the zones, adding that legislation and regulation on tax incentives and regulation easing have yet to be decided.

In addition, Lin said that the government would be vigilant for tax losses and less-than-satisfactory investment performances.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) and Su Cheng-ching (蘇震清) expressed concern at a separate press conference over the establishment of a value-adding and marketing center for agricultural products in the zones, saying that it could have a detrimental impact on Taiwanese agricultural products.

The lawmakers proposed an agricultural economic zone that promotes and markets home-grown products because under the current plan, cheaper Chinese agricultural products were likely to be imported to the zones for processing and could squeeze out domestically grown products.

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