Some business leaders yesterday expressed concern that local opposition to the cross-strait service trade agreement could undermine future negotiations with China on a planned accord on trade in goods.
If the service trade pact fails to clear the Legislative Yuan due to stiff resistance from opposition parties, it would be hard for talks on the goods agreement to proceed, said Carl Huang (黃建中), secretary-general of the Taiwan Machine Tool and Accessory Builders’ Association.
With a new legislative session scheduled to begin on Sept. 17, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is hoping that lawmakers will ratify the service pact by the end of the session in December, while opposition parties — led by the Democratic Progressive Party — have vowed to boycott the deal’s review.
The service trade agreement was signed in June and seeks to open up the service sectors on either side of the Taiwan Strait to each other.
Under the agreement, Taiwan is to allow China access to service subsectors such as printing, car rental, cargo transportation, guided tours beauty parlors and salons, online gaming and funeral services.
Beijing has agreed to open businesses such as e-commerce, printing, hospitals, construction and transportation to Taiwanese investors.
Following the signing of the service trade pact, Taipei and Beijing aim to sign an agreement on trade in goods.
If the service trade agreement does not pass the legislative review, mutual trust between Taiwan and China would be eroded and could produce road bumps for future cross-strait negotiations on economic exchanges, Huang said.
Local machine tool makers are anxious for an agreement on merchandise trade to be signed, worrying that without one their exports to China could be affected, he said.
Wang Cheng-ching (王正青), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry, said he was not only worried about future negotiations with China but also about how other trading partners would see Taiwan if the service trade agreement remained stuck in the Legislative Yuan.
He feared that Taiwan could face difficulties in future talks with other countries, such as the US and Association of Southeast Asian Nations, at a time when Taiwanese exporters are eager to penetrate the global market, Wang said.
Taiwan should follow the rules of the game in the international market for its own survival, he said.