President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is to defend the cross-strait service trade agreement when he attends a forum in Greater Taichung today focusing on the new pact.
The forum is the first in a series of meetings organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs with representatives from companies in the service industy aimed at easing their concerns about the impact the pact would have.
The Presidential Office said Ma wants to gain a better understanding of the service industry’s concerns.
Business owners in the printing and beauty salon industries, two sectors that have raised concerns about opening the domestic market to Chinese investment, have been invited to attend the forum.
The ministry said it would hold more forums in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan, with about 200 representatives of the service industry invited to each one.
Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) will also attend the forums.
Ma has said the new pact will facilitate Taiwan’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other regional free-trade agreements, insisting that the pact requires both Taiwan and China to open their service markets.
He has also said Taiwan’s competitive service industry can enhance its development by entering China’s vast consumer market.
Meeting with former US Department of Commerce secretary John Bryson yesterday, Ma reiterated that Taiwan hopes to join the TPP and the RCEP to avoid economic marginalization.
“We are seeking economic cooperation with major trade partners, and to sign economic pacts with them one by one. Ultimately, we want to join the TPP and the RCEP. These two pacts will help Taiwan become a member in regional economic integration,” Ma said.
He also mentioned the US-Taiwan talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that were resumed in March after a gap of five years. Those talks are a step forward to closer economic cooperation with the US, he said.