The government’s announcement that it will soon sign a service trade agreement with China despite the lack of professional assessments on the potential impact that such a pact would have on the nation’s economy, various industries and employment is a cause for concern, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.
The government’s “hasty negotiations” with China for a service trade agreement — a follow-up talk under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — is likely to damage, rather than benefit, the nation’s service sector, DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) told a press conference.
It took Beijing more than two years to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and fours years to ink one with New Zealand, but the ECFA negotiations only took five months, Lee said, adding that Taiwan’s national interests might be jeopardized by Ma’s haste to complete cross-strait trade pacts.
The press conference, co-hosted by Lee and other DPP legislators, Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and Pasuya Yao (姚文智), was held after government officials held a closed-door meeting with the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee on the service trade agreement yesterday morning.
The closed-door briefing was listed as confidential and they could not disclose confidential information, the lawmakers said, adding that the committee was also given limited information about the negotiations, which the Ministry of Economic Affairs said would soon be completed.
The lawmakers said that according to the ministry, Taiwan should come out of the negotiations as a winner, as China has pledged the opening of 65 service sectors against Taiwan’s 55, but the agriculture and manufacturing sectors are expected to suffer “a certain degree of negative impact.”
“There is give-and-take in all negotiations, but what the officials said was all good news. They did not mention potential impact and losses that we have to take. And they gave no scientific data and numbers. We are extremely disappointed,” Tuan said.
The lack of professional assessments could cost Taiwan dearly, Chen said, as the service sector accounted for 73 percent of the nation’s GDP and 58 percent of the private-sector work force.
Most of the items China agreed to open market access, including architectural design, are things that they are strong in, which means what Beijing really wants is to attract investment and personnel from Taiwan, Chen said.
Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits have both expressed optimism recently that the service trade agreement will be inked before the end of this year.