Tue, Nov 19, 2013 - Page 3 News List

MOEA’s ‘trade ploy’ criticized

‘BACK DOOR’ MOVE:Legislators said the government was trying to evade oversight of trade pacts and investment rules by ‘secretly’ amending Chinese investment rules

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has opened a “back door” for Chinese investment to be exempt from restrictions in the planned free economic pilot zones (FEPZs) before the zones are established and the cross-strait service trade agreement clears the legislature, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

“It is illegal. It is like a false start in the 100 meter dash,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) told a press conference.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) secretly bulletined an amended Measures Governing Investment Permit to the People of the Mainland Area (大陸地區人民來台投資許可辦法) on Thursday last week, which lifted the restrictions on the category, ratio and amount for Chinese investment as long as there are no national security concerns, Cheng said.

As the service trade pact is still awaiting legislative screening and the special statute on FEPZs — which are to be established across the country in the hope of boosting the economy by liberalization of personnel, logistics and financial flows, relaxation of investment restrictions and tax incentives — has yet to be sent to the Legislative Yuan, the administration has unilaterally and illegally opened the door to Chinese investors, Cheng said.

The unilateral measure would likely make the FEPZs the “Chinese economic pilot zones,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

The move was indicative of Ma’s strategy to bypass legislative monitoring and allow the influx of Chinese investment regardless of whether lawmakers eventually ratify the trade agreement or not, Chen said.

Chinese investors could now invest on any sector in the FEPZs they want, Chen said.

Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), spokesperson for the Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Service Agreement (反黑箱服貿民主陣線), said the government had violated the Constitution because the FEPZ special statute has not been enacted.

The regulation on Chinese investment should be in place before the legislature begins screening the service trade pact, Lai said.

“Otherwise, the administrative branch could liberalize those investment categories scrapped by lawmakers by administrative orders and the legislative screening would be meaningless,” Lai said.

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