The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) yesterday renewed its call for Taiwan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, saying it could remove political barriers for Taipei to initiate negotiations for a trade enhancement agreement (TEM) with the EU.
Although the government has put a priority on the ECFA, “we urge Taiwan to take ownership of the TEM project as the next step after [the] ECFA,” ECCT chairman Philippe Pellegrin told a media briefing yesterday while releasing its 2009-2010 position paper titled Taiwan Bouncing Back.
Pellegrin said the trade pact with China would create a triple win for Taiwan’s economy, local businesses and foreign companies considering Taiwan as a springboard to China.
TEM measures would boost the EU’s annual GDP by 2 billion euros (US$3 billion) and Taiwan’s economy by 3.8 billion euros, the chamber said.
Pellegrin refused to respond to questions on whether the Taiwanese government’s policymaking credibility had been tainted by “missteps” in its beef negotiations with Washington, which could have a negative impact on inking a trade pact with China. He only said “we will be very disappointed if the ECFA is postponed.”
In the latest position paper, the ECCT listed 133 recommendations, including 98 issues from the 2008-2009 position paper that were not resolved. Only 11 of the 164 recommendations in 2008-2009 were addressed last year.
The chamber expressed frustration over the government’s failure to resolve agrochemical intellectual property rights infringements and a ban on certain electronic imports.
It also urged the government to create a “robust tax system” to enhance Taiwan’s competitiveness in attracting foreign direct investments as well as to take the initiative in implementing energy-saving measures.
Taiwan can save NT$46 billion annually by adopting energy-efficient technologies in offices and residential buildings and reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent, ECCT vice chairman Peter Weiss said.
Overall, at the cost of 1.5 percent of a country’s GDP, investments in energy-saving technologies could boost its economy by between 5 percent and 20 percent annually in addition to lowering carbon emissions, he added.
Separately, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that the signing of an ECFA would help boost the domestic market by creating between 257,000 and 263,000 jobs.
The ministry said in a statement that recent media reports that 1.63 million workers would lose their jobs if the pact were signed were not true.
It said the ECFA would give Taiwan an edge by allowing firms to move into China earlier than competitors and increase Taiwanese products’ market share across the Taiwan Strait.
It would also position Taiwan as a strategic partner for foreign companies when they seek to make inroads in the China market, the statement said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JASON TAN
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