Sat, Jul 20, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Bridal makeup industry worried by service trade pact

By Huang Liang-chieh and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Allowing Chinese investors to invest in the bridal makeup industry would cause an unprecedented catastrophe for the industry and weaken its ability to be self-sustaining in Taiwan and abroad, a bridal makeup development association in Greater Kaohsiung said.

The industry is among those that would be affected by Taiwan’s signing of a service trade agreement with China on June 21 in Shanghai.

The industry’s workers, known as “bridal makeup secretaries” in Taiwan, travel to brides’ homes and other locations to apply make-up.

Association chairman Cheng Hsiao-chen (鄭曉珍) said President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s inking of the cross-strait service pact allowing Taiwanese to set up their own businesses in China was “meaningless.”

Cheng said her industry — along with others — was dissatisfied with the administration’s decision to sign the agreement without first making certain of provisionary measures to safeguard Taiwanese businesses.

According to Cheng, 90 percent of her association’s members are private companies that stay in business primarily by being at the forefront of fashion and making certain they are competitive in terms of technical specialties.

The government should be aware of the risks its policies pose to the economy, but the Ma administration does not seem bothered that Chinese companies may send “poachers” to Taiwan under the guise of “higher level administration staff,” Cheng said.

Under the agreement, an investment of more than US$300,000 would allow a Chinese investor and two staff members to come to Taiwan. Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) has said that for every additional capital injection of US$500,000, another person may be added to the investor’s entourage, up to a maximum of seven.

China’s bridal makeup industry lags behind its Taiwanese counterpart, according to Cheng, who pointed to the medals each nation received at an international hair and cosmetics competition held in South Korea in May as proof —six gold medals and a bronze for Taiwan versus no medals for China.

“China is in great need of techniques to help its workers boost their skill levels in the hair and beauty industry,” Cheng said.

The Chinese legal system is based more on the whims of the individual rather than the rule of law, implying that China is not below commercial espionage to get what it wants, Cheng said.

“The Ma administration needs to make certain that local industries and their techniques and technologies are protected,” Cheng said.

“Unless the government is willing to include clauses ‘forbidding the employment of Chinese technicians,’ it should not be opening up the hair and beauty industry to China,” she said.

Cheng added that Taiwanese face great risk when either working or doing business in China and few Taiwanese hairdressers or beauticians are interested in working there.

She said China still harbors considerable enmity for Taiwan and its government, citing an incident last year at a competition in Indonesia that she and a group of students attended.

As a member of the Asia Pacific Hair and Cosmetology Association, Taiwan had the right to fly its national flag on stage at the event, but China protested, Cheng said.

“It was due to the tireless work of diplomatic personnel in the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Indonesia that Taiwan’s flag flew proudly that day,” she said.

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