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September 25, 2017

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Cross-strait economic pact expected to provide 260,000 local jobs

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan is expected to see a net increase of 260,000 jobs after the establishment of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, Premier Wu Den-yih said Friday.

Asked about the issue during an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan, Wu said the agreement will bring the greatest benefits to the petrochemical, machinery and textile industries, creating a total of 350,000 jobs in these sectors.

This will contribute to a net increase of 260,000 jobs after deducting those that are expected to be lost in the porcelain tile, home electrical appliance and towel industries, which are likely to be threatened by the liberalization of cross-strait trade, Wu said.

In anticipation of the possible negative impact from the agreement, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has earmarked a NT$35 billion (US$1.08 billion) fund that will used to provide assistance to more than 3,700 vulnerable businesses, Wu said.

He said the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) will also put aside funds to finance increased unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the trade liberalization.

Under the CLA's plan, these workers will be eligible to receive unemployment payment for up to nine months -- three months longer than average workers, while older workers and those with physical or mental disabilities will get paid for up to one year, the premier said.

He promised that the government will not further open the Taiwanese market to Chinese agricultural products and will not allow the import of Chinese laborers.

Wu stressed that the proposed ECFA will be signed under the World Trade Organization framework to deal with the special situation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and will differ from a free trade agreement, which requires full reciprocity and liberalization, he said.

In promoting the signing of the ECFA, he continued, the government will always prioritize the interests of Taiwan and the well-being of its people and will seek to maximize its benefits and minimize its disadvantages.

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