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Failure to join regional economic integration to cripple Taiwan: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that Taiwan will be crippled if it does not take part in regional economic integration, likening the current state of global affairs to the Warring States period in ancient China.

The president added, however, that Taiwan needs to undergo restructuring in order to ensure an expansion of its exports and an increase of people's salaries.

Ma made the comments at the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) gave a report on the challenges of Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration.

Reform and restructuring can be done from within the country, Ma explained, adding, however, that Taiwan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is dependant on the actions of others.

The president said that the government needs to negotiate with others in order to achieve the goals of joining the TPP and the RCEP, and that Taiwan needs to speed up its preparations.

Ma called on the opposition to support the cross-strait trade in services pact, adding that if Taiwan continues to display indecisiveness, and that if lawmakers continue to block the pact, the government cannot ask members of the international community to believe in Taiwan's credibility and its determination to carry out trade liberalization.

Passing the pact this session would serve the two-fold purposes of displaying Taiwan's credibility and its commitment to liberalization, Ma explained, adding that the fate of the pact will affect Taiwan's chances of joining the TPP and the RCEP.

The nation's challenges remain the same regardless of one's political affiliations, while the guiding principles behind Taiwan's economic cooperation agreements with mainland China and other countries are the same, the president said, stressing that there has to be consensus regardless of differences in ideologies in the face of the nation's future challenges.

'Warring States'

Nations across the globe are forming strategic alliances through trade, Ma said, likening the current state of global affairs to the Warring States period in ancient China.

In order to succeed, a country needs to secure more free trade agreements than its rival, the president said.

The market share of a country's goods in another country increases when the former has an FTA with the latter, whereas countries without an FTA with the latter will see a decrease in their market shares, Ma explained.

If Taiwan does not accept this challenge, it will become one of the defeated in the global arena, Ma said.

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