Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday praised the recently signed cross-strait service trade agreement as reducing trade barriers on both sides, adding that the trade pact heralds an era of “cross-strait economic and trade interaction in full scale.”
On returning from Shanghai where the agreement was inked on Friday, Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) briefed Jiang on the pact in the company of Mainland Affairs Council Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭).
At a press conference, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said Jiang gave “high recognition and praise” for the objectives accomplished: the signing of the agreement and a consensus that China would help Taiwan tackle water shortages on the outlying island of Kinmen.
Jiang instructed officials to explain the agreement to the public so they can understand its positive effects, Cheng said.
According to the agreement — a follow-up to 2010’s Economic Cooperative Framework Agreement (ECFA) — Taiwan agreed to open 64 service categories to Chinese investment. In return, China gave the green light to opening up 80 categories in its service sector.
“During negotiations, we have upheld the principle of maximizing benefits and minimizing downsides based on assessments by government agencies,” Lin said.
Lin termed the agreement a “win-win” situation for both sides of the Strait.
The signing of the agreement has aroused concerns over a lack of public consultation and assessments of the impact on local industry and employment.
At the request of lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee on May 30, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Mainland Affairs Council agreed to present an assessment report by September.
Asked how they came to the conclusion that the pact will bring more positive than negative effects, given the lack of assessment, Cho said officials from both sides had met dozens of times to discuss the agreement over the past two years.
Cho said the government not holding public discussions while the agreement was being negotiated was “in line with international practices” that such negotiations are kept confidential.
Several lawmakers, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), said last week that they had no idea what the agreement would cover because they were not briefed by the Mainland Affairs Council on progress in the negotiations.
However, Wang Yu-chi dismissed the allegations.
He said he briefed Wang Jin-pyng on April 19, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) on April 23 and KMT Policy Committee chief Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) on May 2 and that he also explained the progress of negotiations to lawmakers on the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee and Economic Committee.