Int'l pact could benefit service sector
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's service industry output and exports will increase significantly if the International Services Agreement (ISA) is put into practice, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
January 17, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The pact would also see great benefits for gross domestic product, foreign investment and agricultural and industrial output, as well as imports and exports, the statement said.
The MOEA made the statement after U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk notified the U.S. Congress Tuesday that the Obama administration intends to enter negotiations on a new trade agreement on the ISA with a total of 20 economies within 90 days.
Taiwan, the European Union and Japan are among these economies.
The negotiations will be held in Geneva and may cover finance, e-commerce and telecommunications. The MOEA will send a delegation to attend the international talks.
The ISA is aimed at opening up services markets around the globe, bypassing the deadlocked Doha Round negotiations.
MOEA officials said that when attending the Doha Round negotiations, Taiwan, the U.S., Japan, European Union and other trading partners jointly set up a “Really Good Friends” (RGF) group to promote service industry liberalization.
As Doha negotiations remain deadlocked, the RGF members have moved to promote the signing of the ISA, and have reached a preliminary consensus on the negotiation framework of the ISA. The real negotiations are to be held within the upcoming three months in Geneva.
A survey of shipping, telecommunications, tourism and banking industries, conducted by the Taiwan Coalition of Service Industries, showed that enterprises in the industries have expressed their support for Taiwan joining the ISA talks, according to MOEA officials.
The officials said that the ministry is evaluating opinions contributed by industrial, academic and government sectors concerning the multilateral services agreement, and will work out effective policy proposals to pave the way for Taiwan's participation in the upcoming Geneva talks.
In the eyes of European economic analysts, the ISA is an economic and trade agreement that Taiwan can strive hard to join, at a time when Taiwan is still unable to join regional economic systems.
For instance, Ho Suk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), told a correspondent of Taiwan's Central News Agency in Brussels that Taiwan is not likely to be able to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreements, and therefore the ISA is emerging as the only choice Taiwan can take.
The ECIPE director said that Taiwan is inferior to other economies in terms of performance of service industries. He added that in order for Taiwan's service industries to become more competitive, further liberalization of related rules and regulations is badly needed.
He said that the European Union is most interested in tapping the Chinese market, and therefore it would be not in the interests of the EU to exclude mainland China from the ISA. Accordingly, the EU hopes that the ISA could be blended with the General Agreement on Trade in Services under the framework of the World Trade Organization.