Mon, Apr 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: Economic minister to tour universities, promote pact

Staff writer, with CNA

Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) is to promote the cross-strait service trade agreement at National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu today and Wednesday respectively.

The minister is to exchange views on the pact with students at a forum at each university, economics officials said.

Since students occupied the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on March 18 to protest the government’s handling of the pact, economic officials have sought to defend the service trade pact with China and have promoted it at different schools, saying the pact is vital to the nation’s economic integration in the region.

The campaign was launched by Chang’s colleague, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) on Monday last week, when he delivered a speech at National Chengchi University in Taipei and National Taipei University in New Taipei City to explain the necessity of the pact.

In addition to the forum at Tsing Hua Univesity and Chiao Tung University, officials are scheduled to give eight presentations at universities in northern Taiwan before Thursday, in a bid to woo student support for the pact.

The officials said they have offered to give presentations on the pact at different schools since August last year, but only 18 of the 454 university departments they contacted have scheduled presentations.

However, the pact has become a controversial issue since protesters began occupying the Legislative Yuan.

Chinese National Federation of Industries secretary-general Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生) on Saturday said that Taiwan needs to be ready to “give” if it wants to participate in economic trade blocs.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” Tsai said, adding that the “give” part of give-and-take must be emphasized in negotiations.

Trade liberalization is necessary to catch up economically, he said, citing a 10 percent decline in machinery exports to the US since the South Korea-US free-trade agreement took effect.

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