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Government to launch trade pact presentations

TAIPEI--As a student-led protest against the trade-in-services agreement with China continues to blaze, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is planning to hold presentations at universities to explain the government's views on the controversial accord to students.

Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Duh Tyzz-jiun will head an MOEA team assigned to address the pact at schools, with his maiden show scheduled to take place at National Chengchi University Monday, followed by a second presentation at National Taipei University the next day.

According to Duh, during the planned presentations, he will explain what the services trade accord is, its contents and the reason for its formation. He said he will also detail the signing process, which took place in June last year, and the process of the pact's presence at the Legislature for review and ratification.

To avoid possible criticisms blasting the presentations as nothing more than government propaganda, he will be open to questions, Duh added, noting that he is ready for any “spicy” questions.

It will be the first presentation of the trade pact the MOEA has held on campuses since the outbreak of protests against the accord on March 18 that expanded to an occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student protesters later that day. The occupation continued Sunday.

Concerned that the cross-Taiwan Strait trade agreement, under which the two sides agree to open their doors to each other's service sectors, will hurt Taiwan's businesses and job market, the protesters are demanding new legislation that would subject any agreements with China to close monitoring by lawmakers and that lawmakers should not take any action on the pact until the new law is enacted.

The MOEA noted that as long ago as Aug. 9 last year, it mailed 454 law, economics and finance departments and institutes at universities around Taiwan, asking if they wanted to have the government's presentation of the services pact organized on their campuses.

However, most schools, including prestigious National Taiwan University and National Tsing Hua University, showed a lack of interest in the proposal, it said.

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