The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it would set up two lines of defense against the opaque and unfair cross-strait service trade agreement, at the legislature and at local government level.
“The legislature, after a negotiation, has said that it will screen and vote on the pact clause by clause. If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) pushes the pact through the legislature, local governments can take administrative measures to counter the agreement,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee (CSC) meeting, which leaders of five of the six DPP-governed cities and counties attended.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻), Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) and Yilan County Deputy Commissioner Wu Tze-cheng (吳澤成) attended the meeting.
The DPP supports free trade, but it is strongly opposed to the way the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) handled the negotiations, Su said.
There was a lack of transparency, a failure to keep the affected sectors informed and the negotiations were conducted without a comprehensive assessment of the potential impact on Taiwan’s economy, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises and the job market, Su said.
The 64 sectors the government proposes to open to Chinese investment could involve more than 1,000 sub-sectors, harming small businesses and vendors the most, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.
A CSC resolution reached yesterday demanded that lawmakers across party lines strictly monitor the pact and that the central government submit an impact assessment report as soon as possible, Lin said, adding that if the KMT tries to forcibly push the pact through the legislature, the DPP would not rule out countermeasures, including a massive demonstration, because the potential adverse impact on local businesses would be huge.
Greater Kaohsiung is likely to suffer tremendous damage from the pact as the city accounts for 12.13 percent of companies in the service sector and 8.92 percent of the sector’s annual revenue, Chen told a press conference held after the CSC meeting.
“Up to 4 million workers in the sector across the country could be impacted by the agreement. I call on every lawmaker to view people’s livelihoods as the priority when he or she reviews the agreement,” Chen Chu said.
Lai described Ma’s decision to sign the service trade agreement as “unwise” at a time when the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed in 2010, has failed to live up to the president’s pledge that it would benefit the nation’s economy.
“The worst thing was that the government neither made negotiations transparent, nor consulted the related sectors, nor formulated any supporting measures to minimize the negative impact,” Lai said.
Wu said 62.1 percent of the service sector workers in Yilan County could be affected by the agreement, which was why the pact has caused panic among residents of the county.
The grouper breeding sector in Pingtung and the tourism industry in Chiayi County were supposed to blossom after the signing of the ECFA, according to Ma, but both sectors have suffered from destructive competition from Chinese investment backed by state-run companies and government subsidies, Tsao and Chang said.