Ma alert to possible impact of 3-state FTA
TAIPEI, CNATAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou is alert to the fact that China, Japan and South Korea are about to begin free-trade talks and has instructed the Cabinet to move quickly to prevent Taiwan from being marginalized in global trade, Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi said yesterday.
May 15, 2012, 12:13 am TWN
The proposed three-way trade accord raised a red flag for Taiwan, and the president hopes to speed up talks with Taiwan's major trade partners to achieve better economic integration into the Asia Pacific region, Fan Chiang said.
Although Taiwan has made major progress in boosting external trade by signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China in 2010 and an investment agreement with Japan last year, daunting challenges remain in Taiwan's efforts to pursue economic cooperation with the rest of world, the spokesman said, citing Ma.
Taiwan needs to speed up its free trade talks with Singapore and New Zealand, and with China on remaining aspects of the ECFA, otherwise the competitive edge created by the ECFA will soon be blunted by the trilateral pact among China, Japan and South Korea, the spokesman said.
The president also hopes that talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will resume soon to enhance Taiwan's trade competitiveness and minimize the impact of the upcoming three-way agreement, the spokesman said.
Talks under the TIFA have been stalled since 2007 due mainly to a dispute over U.S. beef imports to Taiwan and the controversial livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
Speed up Trade Talks Amid New FTA Threat: Minister
Taiwan should speed up the progress of talks with its major trade partners, as China, Japan and South Korea have decided to launch talks on a proposed free trade bloc, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said yesterday.
“The three-way negotiations will definitely create pressure for us,” Shih said on the sidelines of a legislative hearing.
If the three of Asia's four biggest economies form a free-trade bloc that does not include Taiwan, “the influence will be tremendous,” he added.
Taiwan should move faster to begin or re-open trade talks with its major partners as soon as possible, Shih said, adding that the country should accelerate talks with China on a bilateral economic pact, as well as seeking further cooperation with Japan.
In addition, Taiwan should broaden its markets in Southeast Asia and re-open trade talks with the United States, he said.
“There are many issues that we need to resolve,” said Shih, adding that time is of the essence.
Taiwan's ban on imports of U.S. beef containing residue of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine is an obstacle and the main reason why the two countries have not held talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement since 2007, according to the minister.
Taiwan should also begin trying to cooperate with its major trade rival, South Korea, instead of seeing it only as a competitor, he continued.
“Although South Korea is a strong competitor, it is also a very important trade partner,” Shih said, adding that Taiwan and South Korea can build up “competitive cooperation” to create more business.