President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he regrets that the cross-strait service trade agreement signed nine months ago is still stalled in the legislature and he is worried the delay could hurt Taiwan’s credibility in the international community.
“We will be unable to take the consequences,” Ma said, adding that the delay could lead to other trading partners to question Taiwan’s sincerity in pushing for trade liberalization.
Legislative committees began a joint review of the pact on Wednesday, but amid scuffles between lawmakers, no progress was made.
More confrontations are expected when the legislature continues the review next week.
Ma said that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010 has proven a great boost to Taiwan, but added that the pact only covers a small number of goods. Items covered by the agreement have shown growth despite the sluggish economy, and some businesses would not have survived without the deal, he said.
The government is hoping to complete a commodity trade pact this year, but if the service trade deal does not clear the legislature soon, the commodity trade pact would be affected, he said.
Taiwan must reform and open up in areas in which it does not have to rely on others to become more competitive, he said.
Ma said that trade with New Zealand has increase 73 percent since a bilateral economic cooperation agreement was signed with the country last year.
“No matter whether we like it or not” the cruel fact is that Taiwan relies on exports for 70 percent of its economic growth and unemployment will result if exports are poor, he said.
Meanwhile, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he hoped Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and opposition lawmakers could sit down to exchange views on the service trade deal, although it would be difficult.