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September 20, 2017

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China should not block Taiwan's FTA talks: Wolfowitz

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan will evolve into a new business operation hub in the Asia-Pacific region after it secures a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, said Chairman Paul Wolfowitz of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. He also said Beijing should not block other nations from signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with Taiwan.

Wolfowitz made the remarks in a keynote speech on "An Asian Tiger for the Twenty-first Century: Taiwan's Potential in the Global Marketplace" at a gathering sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute for Public policy Research in Washington on Monday.

Taiwan will have the unprecedented access to the Chines market after signing the ECFA with China, he pointed out. Given its democratic political system as well as the advantageous position of advanced economic system, global manufacturing and supply chain center, Taiwan has the potential of becoming a key economic and business center in the region, he said.

Citing the latest report of the World Bank, of which he once served as president, Wolfowitz said Taiwan was given the fifth place with the most improvement in investment environment in 2010.

He believes that Taiwan will achieve the best improvement in 2011 after the ECFA across the Taiwan Strait is signed.

Wolfowitz said he is glad to see Taiwan actively seek FTAs with member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Beijing should not interfere with the intention of the ASEAN nations to secure such pacts with the island.

However, Wolfowitz noted that Taiwan would have to wait for a while before striking an FTA with the United States. He explained that the U.S. Congress has not even approved the FTA reached with South Korea and Colombia. It could take much longer if controversies emerge in the agreements, he added.

Wolfowitz, who is currently also a visiting scholar at AEI, said it is unlikely for China to boycott multinational corporations if they want to move their business operation headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region to Taiwan,

Regarding the concern, several other panelists at the seminar also discount the possibilities.

They included President Rupert Hammond-Chambers of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. Heritage Foundation senior researchers Derek Scissors and Dan Blumenthal.

Paul Chiu, chairman of Taipei-based Bank SinoPac, also held the same view.

The former vice premier said it is impossible for Taipei and Beijing to entangle themselves with economic disputes while the two sides have even reached diplomatic truce.

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