Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Siew proposes new ‘cooperative free-trade zones’

Staff writer, with CNA

Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) has proposed that Taiwan and China should establish “cooperative free-trade zones” to avoid “zero-sum” competition in trade and economics.

Speaking at an economic forum organized by CommonWealth Magazine, Siew said globalization and economic integration have transformed China from the “world’s factory” into the “world’s market.”

These trends have also transformed the cross-strait model, he said.

While Taiwanese businesses used to be producers that contributed to China’s exports, the relationship between businesses on the two sides has become competitive, he said.

Over the past two years, Chinese companies have drawn Taiwanese workers, capital and technologies like a magnet, he said.

Their strategies of “recruiting Taiwanese talent, copying techniques and duplicating business management models of Taiwanese companies” have “increased hurdles” for Taiwanese entering the Chinese market, Siew said.

That is why many Taiwanese are worried about the cross-strait service trade agreement, which will allow capital-rich Chinese firms to enter Taiwan, he said, referring to the Sunflower movement that occupied the legislature in Taipei in March and April.

Instead of a zero-sum game, he said, the two sides should work toward “cooperative free-trade zones” that would operate in coordination with the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) of 2010, the cross-strait service trade agreement and the merchandise trade agreement still being negotiated.

Taiwan’s energetic capacity for innovation and China’s vast domestic market make the two sides well-suited to cooperate, he said.

Siew also urged China to help Taiwan in its bids to join two regional economic blocs being negotiated — the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Siew, vice president from 2008 to 2012, is chair of the government-funded Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research and has been asked by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to help form a group to promote Taiwan’s bids.

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