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Ex-SEF chief expresses worry over pact controversy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ex-Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) yesterday expressed concern and regret over the recent Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement controversy.

Chiang said that he is worried about Taiwan's competitiveness being affected, adding that it pained him to see the public objecting to the service trade pact as a result of misinformation and disinformation.

The Chinese Culture University yesterday held a forum on the service trade pact, in which the former SEF chairman was invited to give a speech.

Prior to his speech, Chiang told reporters that President Ma Ying-jeou has always placed Taiwan's benefit as a priority with regard to cross-strait agreements.

“(The SEF) has worked hard to achieve this goal in every agreement,” Chiang said, adding that by signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), the foundation aimed to increase Taiwan's competitiveness.

“When both sides of the strait signed ECFA, South Korea was most worried. Seeing Taiwan slow down today, South Korea is most pleased,” Chiang said.

When the service trade pact was being negotiated, the issue of national security was taken into consideration, Chiang said, adding that passing the service trade pact does not equate to flinging Taiwan's doors wide open.

Stalling the service trade pact not only affects upcoming cross-strait agreements, it also affects cross-strait exchanges to a certain extent, Chiang said, urging the public to discuss the issue rationally in order for all sectors to understand what the service trade pact actually is.

In his speech, Chiang said that he was concerned about Taiwan getting left behind as more and more countries around the globe ink free trade agreements.

KMT Lauds DPP Kaohsiung Mayor over Conditional Support

During a Kaohsiung City Council session on Monday, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said, “If there is due process, if it's beneficial to Taiwan, if there are supplementary measures in place, I support the service trade pact,” according to local reports.

In response, the Kuomintang (KMT) urged other Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members to follow suit and to consider the bigger picture for the sake of the economy.

Local reports added that Yunlin Magistrate Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬), Pintung Magistrate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) and Yilan Magistrate Lin Tsong-shyan (林聰賢), all of whom belong to the DPP, said that they are not against signing economic cooperation agreements with Taiwan's trading partners, including mainland China, as long as there are supplementary measures in place.

Chen and Su's stance on the service trade pact is comparatively more rational, KMT Culture and Communications Committee Director Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said, urging members of the opposition to look to Chen as an example.

Major national affairs require rational dialogue, Fan Chiang stressed.

VP Cites TPP, RCEP Prospects

Former Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) said yesterday that passing the service trade pact will help Taiwan take part in regional economic integration, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Regarding the Executive Yuan's suggestion of holding a national affairs conference on trade and economics, Siew said that he is in favor of the proposal because it would help clear up doubts.

Taiwan has faced many challenges related to economic liberalization, Siew said, adding that Taiwan has so far surpassed these challenges smoothly, accumulating a lot of experience in the process.

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