Opposition lawmakers yesterday called on the government to implement more robust policies to better protect Taiwan from Chinese economic and military aggression.
Citing China’s ban on products from 100 Taiwanese companies announced on Monday, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) said the government should implement four measures to better protect agricultural producers.
It should establish a dedicated consulting and counseling unit, and a dedicated hotline to provide assistance to affected businesses, he said.
Photo: Tien Yu-hua, Taipei Times
It should also expand overseas markets for Taiwanese products, improve inspection of agricultural products before export and negotiate agricultural trade agreements with several nations, he said.
The largest market for many of Taiwan’s agricultural and fisheries products is China, TPP Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said, citing groupers and beltfish, 90 percent of which are sold to China.
The proportion of mackerel sold to China has also increased from 49 percent last year to 72 percent this year, he said.
In response, Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-General Lee Guann-jyh (李冠志) said the government is diversifying export markets of products such as processed foods, of which the US buys 30 percent, while China buys only 12 percent.
Council of Agriculture Department of International Affairs Deputy Director Lin Chih-hung (林志鴻) said his office is also busy working on expanding overseas markets.
It is providing incentives and subsidies for grouper sales to overseas markets and had already exported 151 tonnes of the fish as of Sunday, he said, adding that it is aiming for 300 tonnes by the end of the year.
The proportion of fresh fruit sold to China was also reduced to 41 percent last year from 84 percent the year before, he said.
Separately, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators urged the government not to employ an “anti-China protectionist” economic policy as a tactic to perform well in the local elections in November.
The government should provide necessary assistance and subsidies to companies, farmers and fishers affected by China’s import bans, KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.
“The government should assume that China would take retaliatory economic measures one after another, and should put forward a specific plan and to assist affected industries,” he said.
The government should restore the 2008 Cross-Strait Food Safety Agreement (海峽兩岸食品安全協議) and reopen cross-strait channels of communication as soon as possible, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lee De-wei (李德維) said.
KMT Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) criticized a rural tourism lottery implemented by the Council of Agriculture as a means of boosting revenue for farmers, saying the measure was far from adequate.
“The council should appeal to the WTO and fight for Taiwanese farmers’ and fishers’ rights,” he said.
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