Tue, Sep 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ma says service trade agreement vital to enhancing nation’s competitiveness

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

If Taiwan wishes to connect with the world, it must first open itself up, and liberalizing the market would only make the nation more competitive, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.

Ma made the remarks at a meeting with the Taipei Yunlin Townsmen Association at the Presidential Office yesterday, as he spoke about the cross-strait service trade agreement that Taiwan and China inked in late June.

Pointing to the US registered fast-food company McDonald’s as an example, Ma said that McDonald’s has established 390 outlets since its entry into the nation 30 years ago, adding that the fast-food chain employs more than 20,000 Taiwanese.

Ma said he still remembered the reaction of local eateries when McDonald’s said it was going to set up branches in the nation, with many expressing concern that local restaurants and eateries would be greatly affected.

Thirty years later, the restaurants and eateries have managed and adapted to the presence of McDonald’s, and have even learned from the chain by adopting its management method, Ma said.

“We must open up if we want to connect to the world; liberalizing [our markets] would only benefit Taiwan and increase its competitiveness,” Ma said.

Ma pointed to Hong Kong and Singapore as examples, saying that both had done better economically than Taiwan, adding that the most important reason for their economic success was that they were more liberal than Taiwan.

Though Taiwan also boasts of agriculture — a factor lacking in both Hong Kong and Singapore —and must be more careful in liberalization, the nation cannot benefit from standing still, Ma said.

Inaction would only cause stagnation and affect the nation’s competitiveness, he said.

Ma also said that his upcoming debate with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Sept. 15 is an endeavor to let the public understand the motives of the government.

Ma called on the public not to worry and said that the Legislative Yuan would become the people’s bulwark and filter out any articles that would damage Taiwanese interests.

The agreement has yet to be ratified by the Legislative Yuan which has promised to go through each article during its review.

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