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President Ma claims SMEs see amazing benefits from ECFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that Taiwan's economy as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises have benefited from the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

The president made the comments during a meeting with a Japanese delegation at the Presidential Office.

It has been four years since that agreement was signed, and the sectors covered by ECFA have grown substantially, benefiting the overall economy, the president said.

In terms of bilateral trade, ECFA has especially benefited SMEs exporting to mainland China; furthermore, the agreement has also induced other countries, such as Singapore, New Zealand and countries in Southeast Asian, to sign economic cooperation agreements with the Republic of China, the president said.

Speaking about agreements with Japan, the president said that Taiwan and Japan signed an open skies agreement, giving airliners on both sides further opportunities to cooperate.

Visits between Taiwan and Japan reached a record-breaking 3.76 million last year, after direct flights between Haneda Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport began, the president said, adding that this year, visits between Taiwan and Japan will exceed 4 million, an unprecedented figure.

Last year, Taiwan and Japan signed a fishery agreement, which has led to peace and prosperity for both sides, the president said, adding that in 2012, a year before the agreement was signed, there were 17 cases of fishery-related disputes between Taiwan and Japan, but last year there was only one.

Japan is one of Taiwan's largest trading partners and is also one of Taiwan's major sources of foreign investment, the president said, adding that there is a lot of room for bilateral cooperation.

The president said that since he stepped into office, the administration has been actively engaging in discussion with Japan over an economic cooperation agreement, in the hope that the two countries can cooperate and join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Scandal

On a separate occasion yesterday, the president commented on the recent scandal involving former Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), describing it as a relatively small incident in the greater trend of cross-strait development.

Taiwan and mainland China have signed 21 agreements, and cross-strait relations are currently at their most stable over the past 65 years, the president said.

The R.O.C. government attaches great importance to cross-strait relations and it will continue to develop these ties, the president added.

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