President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promoted the cross-strait service trade agreement at a forum held in Greater Taichung’s Dajia Jenn Lann Temple (大甲鎮瀾宮) in his administration’s latest effort to ease the public’s concerns about the adverse impact the agreement could have on the service industry.
The forum was part of a series of meetings organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs with representatives from companies in the service industry and local residents from several cities and counties.
Dismissing mounting concerns about the influx of Chinese investments in local service industries, Ma yesterday said that the agreement does not include the opening of Taiwan to Chinese labor and investment immigrants.
The president added that local competitive industries, such as the retail and online game industries, can enhance their businesses by entering China’s vast consumer market.
Using the laundry sector as an example, Ma said that of the 6,000 laundry shops across the nation, only two are owned by Chinese investors since the government opened the sector up to foreign investments in the 1980s.
“Taiwan’s service industry is very competitive and Chinese businesses do not necessarily want to compete with their Taiwanese counterparts. We should have more faith in the strength of our competitive edge,” he said.
Ma also stressed the importance of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership for the nation to become a major global trading partner, and avoid being left behind amid deepening regional economic integration.
He acknowledged that the government should explain the pact to the public in more detail and enhance dialogue regarding its potential effects, but panned the opposition camp for distorting the possible impacts.
“Some people say the agreement will flood the country with poorly-made Chinese goods, but we are not opening Taiwan to Chinese products under the pact. The service trade agreement will bring more investments and lure more business to Taiwan,” the president said.
The Ma administration is seeking to have the agreement approved by the legislature in the provisional session, which is to start on Tuesday.
If ratified, the agreement would open up 64 sectors of Taiwan’s service industry to Chinese investment, while China would open 80 sectors to Taiwan.