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Service pact to give Taiwan advantage over rivals: minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi said yesterday that the cross-strait trade in services pact will help extend the reach of local businesses toward the mainland Chinese market and that it will greatly benefit Taiwanese businesspeople based in mainland China.

The MAC yesterday held a forum in Hualien, inviting members of the academia to discuss the recently inked pact.

The pact will allow local businesspeople to stand at an advantage against foreign competitors in mainland China, Wang said.

The trade in services pact is an important component of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, the minister said, adding that in terms of the 80 service categories that mainland China agreed to open up to Taiwan, every concession that the mainland Chinese authorities has made is greater than the concessions made to foreign countries.

With regard to the controversy surrounding the pact, Wang said that of the 64 service categories that Taiwan agreed to open up to mainland China, 27 had already been gradually opened up since 2009, whereas only 37 are new.

The government put forth its best efforts to secure greater access to the mainland Chinese market for Taiwanese businesspeople, as well as setting up critical requirements toward mainland Chinese investment coming into Taiwan, the minister said.

Printing, Publishing Debate

Citing the printing industry as an example, Wang said that people from mainland China are barred from opening up new firms in Taiwan, and that they may only obtain a certain percentage of shares in an existing company, preventing them from gaining effective control.

Taiwanese businesspeople, on the other hand, may open up printing houses in mainland China, taking part in a very large market, the minister said.

The mainland Chinese authorities maintain a very strict hold on the publishing industry, Wang said, adding that if Taiwan had tied printing and publishing together when negotiating with mainland China, there might have been no deal at all.

The attempt to gain greater access to the printing sector but not the publishing sector in mainland China was a strategic decision, Wang said.

In response to objections to the pact from traditional Chinese medicine shop operators, Wang said that the pact only allows the mainland Chinese to distribute but not retail traditional Chinese medicine in Taiwan.

Regional economic integration has become a global trend that Taiwan cannot afford to not take part in, the minister said, adding that Taiwan needs to make preparations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

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President Ma Ying-jeou speaks to industry representative at a forum held in Taipei yesterday to discuss the recently signed cross-strait service trade pact. (CNA)



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