Cross-strait goods trade agreement also in limbo
By John Liu, The China Post
April 4, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With the implementation of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement delayed, Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said that the impending cross-strait goods trade agreement may not be inked this year as planned.
The new cross-strait negotiation supervision legislation was approved by the Executive Yuan yesterday. The new legislation, which was one of the cornerstone demand made by student protests to ensure proper and fair cross-strait negotiations, is now awaiting the Legislative Yuan's review.
Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said yesterday that he is pleased with the new legislation, which he said is unlikely to bog down future negotiations with the Chinese government, namely the impending negotiation on the cross-strait goods trade agreement, the pact that the government desires to ink after the signing of the service trade pact.
Although Chang believes the new legislation will not affect the trade agreement, he is not optimistic about inking the agreement by mid-year as scheduled. Chang added that he is not even sure if can be achieved by year-end.
The problem lies in the much debated cross-strait service trade agreement, Chang said, adding that "we can't try to sign another agreement, while the previous negotiated one is not yet put into effect."
When asked if it is possible for negotiations on the service trade pact to start over, as demanded by student protests, Chang said in response that of the 380 free trade agreement (FTA) signed all around the world, only the U.S. and South Korea had initiated a renegotiation process before their FTA was put into effect. Other countries initiated renegotiations only after their FTA were implemented, three to five years later.
Whether there will be a renegotiation on the cross-strait service pact depends not just on Taiwan, but also on China's willingness to cooperate, Chang said. However, there is always a mechanism that allows for re-negotiation, to amend for any faults after the pact is implemented, Chang said.
Most countries are supportive of the government's efforts to continue trade negotiations with mainland China under the framework of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, according to Chang, who said however that trade representatives of other countries were incredulous that student protests are occupying the Legislature and refuse to withdraw.