President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday stressed the importance of enhancing the export performance of service industries while defending the cross-strait service trade agreement and shrugging off criticism of the pact as groundless rumors.
Ma, who was attending an economic forum in Taipei, said the recently signed agreement will create more business opportunities for affected service sub-sectors and boost the international competitiveness of Taiwanese service businesses in a free-trade economy.
“Only by opening the domestic markets will the nation thrive and prosper. A closed-door policy will only make our economy wither. An open economy is the path we must take,” he said.
Under the cross-strait service pact, 64 Taiwanese sub-sectors would be opened up to Chinese investment, while China will open 80 sub-sectors to Taiwan.
The Taiwanese sub-sectors include transportation, tourism and traditional Chinese medicine, while China will open up its finance, retail, electronics, publishing and travel sectors.
Critics have expressed concerns that the pact would promote a “one China” market because of the free flow of investment, personnel and products across the Taiwan Strait.
Ma yesterday blamed opponents of the pact for spreading false information, such as a flood of more than 4 million Chinese workers to Taiwan and the saturation of the domestic market by poor-quality Chinese products, and said such allegations have turned rational debate over the potential impact of the agreement into rumor and counter-rumor.
“We have not opened the floodgates for Chinese workers and products … There are many things that will not happen or have been exaggerated,” he said.
Insisting on the strength of Taiwan’s service industry in electronic commerce, financial services and the arts and cultural sector, Ma said many Taiwanese businesses have successfully entered the Chinese market in recent years, and the nation should not be pessimistic about the agreement or fear its impact.
The cross-strait service trade agreement is a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which was signed in 2010. The Ma administration will discuss a goods trade agreement with China as the next step for opening up free trade between both sides of the strait.