Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) yesterday accused each other of distorting facts during a heated debate in the legislature about the impact of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and the proposed service trade agreement.
During a 30-minute question-and-answer session, Lee said that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration had exaggerated the positive impact of the ECFA and had misinterpreted the meaning of free trade by “putting all the eggs in China’s basket.”
While Ma had pledged before the ECFA was signed that it would boost the nation’s GDP, average wage and foreign investment, and that Taiwanese businesspeople would benefit from much lower tariffs, government statistics suggested otherwise, Lee said.
“Most importantly, Ma said the ECFA would pave the way for more free-trade agreements, but so far Taiwan was only able to ink an FTA with New Zealand. The [former] DPP administration was able to sign several FTAs without making concessions to Beijing,” Lee said.
Ma made the same mistakes in negotiating the service trade agreement, with the public questioning the opaqueness of the discussions and the imbalance in market access, the lawmaker said.
China did not offer a full opening of its retail, e-commerce and banking industries, while Taiwan has agreed to liberalize those sectors without restrictions, he said.
Jiang said Lee and the DPP had politicized the service trade pact and tried to make it a vote of confidence against the government, adding that the numbers the DPP had provided were mostly incorrect.
The positive impact of the ECFA has been limited because it was a framework agreement and follow-up deals, such as the service trade pact, have not been implemented, the premier said.
He denied that the government has only focused on China in its pursuit of free trade, saying “there will be more FTAs to be signed.”
Jiang said that trade ties with China are “neither state-to-state trade relations nor domestic trade relations... They are special relations as stipulated in the Constitution.”