SERVICES PACT: Ministry seeking to mollify publishers

RESTRICTIONS::Publishing representatives expressed concern that Chinese firms will have free rein in Taiwan, while Taiwanese firms will face restrictions from Beijing

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Jun 23, 2013 - Page 3

The publishing sector was not included in the service trade agreement between Taiwan and China, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, in an attempt to ease concerns from angry local publishers dissatisfied with the negotiation process, which they said was not transparent.

Hours before the pact was signed in Shanghai on Friday, Rex How (郝明義), a presidential advisor and chairman of Locus Publishing Co, issued a statement urging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to postpone the deal.

How said the negotiations on the pact were conducted in secrecy and denounced the government for ignoring the needs of Taiwanese.

He said many feared that Taiwanese publishers will continue to be forbidden from printing books in China, while Chinese publishers would be able to do so here.

Publishing, printing, retail and distribution are four sectors that are closely related to each other, but the government only included printing in the service trade talks, he added.

As a result, when Taiwan opens its doors fully to Chinese investors in the printing sector in the future, local companies will only be able to print advertising or packing materials, but not books in China, he said.

Lu Cheng-hua (呂正華), a deputy director-general of the ministry’s Industrial Development Bureau, said that under the newly-signed service trade agreement, Taiwan has not agreed to fully open the printing sector to Chinese investors.

Chinese investors are only to be allowed to form joint ventures with Taiwanese companies in the printing industry, and can only hold a stock share of under 50 percent, Lu said.

As for China, what it has offered is similar to what Taiwan has agreed to, Lu said.

If Taiwanese companies want to print books in China, they have to have a Chinese partner who holds a majority of shares and has a “book printing certificate” — a special permit from the Chinese authorities, Lu added.