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September 23, 2017

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Business groups back service trade agreement

TAIPEI--Some business organizations in Taiwan have voiced support for the controversial trade-in-services agreement with China that has triggered student-led protests paralyzing the Legislature in the past 10 days.

On Friday, the Taiwan Securities Association approved a resolution fully backing the trade pact, and urged the public to support a call for legislative operations to return to normal so that lawmakers can review the long-stalled accord as soon as possible.

The resolution was adopted at the association's member congress.

Association chairman Chien Hung-wen called for rational debates on the issue.

He said the new cross-Taiwan Strait trade accord sets up a mechanism that allows Taiwanese securities companies to make inroads into the Chinese market.

It could help securities businesses grow in ways they cannot in Taiwan because of market saturation on the island, Chien said.

Meanwhile, Wang Bo-yuan, chairman of the Monte Jade Science and Technology Association of Taiwan, an association of technology companies' executives, called the services pact a "should-be-done matter."

As an island, Taiwan's economy relies on foreign trade, Wang said, adding that it cannot afford to shut itself out.

In Beijing, an executive of the Taiwan-based 85 Degrees Bakery Cafe chain called on Taiwanese businesses to have confidence in their competitiveness.

David Chiu, 85 Degrees Bakery Cafe's Executive vice president, was asked whether the cross-strait services pact would affect the Taiwanese coffee and bakery businesses if their Chinese rivals are allowed to open shops in Taiwan.

Chiu said Taiwanese products "are definitely strong in terms of competitiveness. Don't worry."

He was speaking at a press conference in Beijing, in which he announced the company will open a flagship store in the Chinese capital later this year.

Quality and service attitude are two things Taiwanese businesses are good at, Chiu said, implying that Chinese competitors must also provide a similarly high standard of service to attract Taiwan's consumers.

The cross-strait trade-in-services accord was signed in June last year but has been stalled in the legislature due to objections from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party and people opposed to the pact out of fear that it would harm the country's small businesses and job opportunities for its people.

A protest against the trade pact developed into an occupation by protesters — mostly students — at the Legislative Yuan, on Tuesday, March 18, which has so far shown no signs of ending.

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