A free-trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and New Zealand was passed by the Legislative Yuan yesterday, the first FTA Taiwan has signed with a non-diplomatic ally.
Lawmakers across party lines lauded the bilateral economic cooperation agreement, the first FTA with a country other than China that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has signed since 2008, saying that it was a step forward in Taiwan’s participation in regional economic integration.
The Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) was signed on July 10.
New Zealand’s parliament has already ratified the accord.
In a press release issued after the plenary session, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the agreement would create a win-win situation for both sides, as the two economies are complementary to each other.
The DPP also urged the government to continue pursuing FTAs with Taiwan’s major trade partners, including Japan, the EU and the US, to avoid overdependence on the Chinese market.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) and People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) raised concerns about the potential negative impact of the agreement on the local dairy industry and livestock breeding industry.
New Zealand has an annual trade surplus of US$600 million with Taiwan in terms of dairy and beef products and the government should develop supplementary measures to assist local farmers, Lee said.
The agreement had political implications, as Taiwan was able to sign the deal with New Zealand because Hong Kong has a similar pact with New Zealand, Hsu said.
He further called on Beijing to stop suppressing Taiwan’s international space.
A report published by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research estimated that the agreement could boost Taiwan’s GDP by US$303 million and create 6255 job opportunities.