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Services trade accord pivotal for economic development: experts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan-China services trade pact that is stalled in the Legislature is not only important for cross-Taiwan Strait trade ties but crucial for Taiwan's integration in the global economy, experts said yesterday.

Roy Chun Lee, deputy director of the Taiwan World Trade Organization (WTO) Center, said the service trade pact could enhance Taiwan's economic strength and allow it to compete with South Korea.

Lee made the comments at a seminar in which experts examined the prospects for the agreement, which has raised controversy since it was inked last year because of concerns that the opening of markets will lead to local unemployment and a brain drain.

However, Lee said, the agreement between Taiwan and China is a crucial step in Taiwan's efforts to remove trade barriers and help clear the way for its participation in free trade blocs — including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Those who are against the pact should come up with other proposals, Lee said, urging the public to discuss the issue with open minds instead of holding on to political agendas.

Cheng Cheng-mount, president of the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance, said Taiwan should seize the opportunity while it still has the chance.

The service sector in Taiwan is still relatively stronger than China's at the moment, Cheng said, warning that this favorable situation might not last long.

“(Taiwan) will lose its advantage if it waits another 20 years,” he said.

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