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Economics minister says he hopes service trade pact will pass soon

TAIPEI--Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch expressed hope Monday that the Legislative Yuan will handle the service trade pact with China at the same time as it considers legislation monitoring future cross-Taiwan Strait agreements, warning that any further delay of the pact will hurt Taiwan's economy.

Speaking during a hearing of the Legislature's Economics Committee, Chang said the stalling of the pact will affect cross-strait negotiations on the trade in goods agreement and hamper progress on trade relations between the two sides.

It will also block Taiwan's efforts to take part in regional economic integration, he said, cautioning that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership “will not wait for Taiwan.”

Agreeing with Chang, National Development Council Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said that at a time when major countries around the world are accelerating their pushes for regional economic integration, any delay will affect Taiwan's future development and the country's credibility in negotiating international agreements.

The two ministers were responding to a statement released a day earlier by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), in which he promised that he will not preside over any more consultation sessions between ruling and opposition lawmakers over the service trade pact until a new law scrutinizing all future cross-strait pacts is passed.

The move is largely in line with demands from student-led protesters who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan's main chamber since March 18. They want the service pact to be shelved until the enactment of a law mandating full oversight of cross-strait agreements.

Also on Monday, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said his council respects the Legislature's decision.

However, he expressed disagreement with a version of a cross-strait agreement oversight legislation that was proposed by activists against the service trade pact, saying that the version, if adopted, would bar the signing of future cross-strait agreements and cause cross-strait ties to come to a standstill and even move backward.

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