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Ma allays fears of cross-strait pact doomsday

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said that more industries have gradually realized that the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement will not bring about any negative effects on the Taiwanese market.

Ma spoke about the service trade pact and Free Economic Pilot Zones at the Kuomintang's (KMT) conference covering legislative and executive affairs.

According to Ma, after a long-term discussion about the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, more people who were against the deal started to change their opinions.

“Take the printing industry for example,” said Ma. “Many printing business owners were worried that once the retail and wholesale markets of books were opened, the entire printing industry would be taken over by mainland China.

“However, it has been over four years since the printing retail industry was opened and there has been no negative effects on Taiwan's industry,” said Ma. “So most people have started to understand that opening the markets does not necessary mean it's bad.”

Ma said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Culture should focus on promoting the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement and the influences it might bring.

Meanwhile, Ma also talked about the main goals for this year, which will be to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) while promoting Free Economic Pilot Zones in Taiwan.

Ma suggested that the Executive Yuan should arrange trips to bring lawmakers to Free Economic Pilot Zones so they can have better ideas on what the economic zones are.

“I believe that once people travel there, they will be more confident in the policy,” said Ma. “I also became more confident after touring the Free Economic Pilot Zones that include international medical treatment, shipping, education, financial services.”

Ma said that people will be more supportive toward the legislative process and the free economic pilot zones after making a trip there.

According to Ma, Taiwan's aesthetic medicine, health exams and critical illness treatment are very competitive, and the ideas about the medical industry are also changing now.

“In the past, people thought that doctors should make saving lives a priority, and doctors should not try to make profit,” said Ma. “However, people now can accept the idea of cosmetic surgery and the profits it will bring to doctors, especially when countries located near Taiwan are also promoting aesthetic medicine, and Taiwan should catch up with this trend since we are very competitive in all these fields.”

Currently, the preliminary terms of the zones stipulate that all Taiwanese enterprises operating overseas participating in the program will be exempt from taxation on dividends and earnings for three years, provided that they meet required investment thresholds.

In addition, foreign companies that store inventory or conduct manufacturing inside the zones will see 100 percent of export taxes and 10 percent of import taxes waived for three years.

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