NT$42 bil. saved through ECFA early harvest list: Ma
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo ,The China Post
April 3, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- So far Taiwan has been able to save NT$42 billion in customs duties since it signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with mainland China, and this is only a result of the Early Harvest Program, President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday, adding that once the two sides of the strait ink a trade in goods agreement, Taiwanese exporters will be able to save even more.
The president made the comments at the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) gave a report on cross-strait relations.
In terms of cross-strait developments, the government's fundamental principle is to uphold the interests of the people, Ma said. "The agreements that we've signed with mainland China are more advantageous than disadvantageous for Taiwan."
The president said that since he took office six years ago, the administration has sought to improve cross-strait ties on the framework of the R.O.C. Constitution, pushing for peaceful development on the bases of the "1992 consensus" and the "one China with different interpretations" principle.
So far, the two sides have signed 21 agreements, but disputes have risen between the ruling party and the opposition over the question of trade in services, Ma pointed out, adding that people have been asking what benefits has Taiwan seen as a result of these cross-strait agreements.
The president said that last year, exports to mainland China stood at US$81.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 1.33 percent.
However, exported goods covered by ECFA, namely those listed in the Early Harvest Program, saw a 10.62-percent increase, Ma said.
This means that the difference in growth between goods covered by ECFA and those not covered by ECFA is approximately a factor of eight, the president said, attributing the difference in growth to the difference in customs duties.
Since ECFA took effect in 2011, customs duties for goods covered by the Early Harvest Program have been gradually reduced to zero, saving exporters NT$42 billion, Ma said, explaining that if a trade in goods agreement is signed, exporters will be able to save even more.
Citing the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement as another example, the president said that police authorities on both sides have so far been able to jointly arrest almost 6,000 suspects, most of whom were involved in fraud.
In 2006, the public was cheated out of NT$18.6 billion through phone scams, but that figure was reduced by 80 percent last year, Ma said.
At the height of phone scams in 2005, there were 43,000 cases, whereas last year, there were only 17,000 cases, the president said, stressing the benefits that the cross-strait agreement has brought to Taiwan.
On March 18, student activists against the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, a follow-up to ECFA, stormed the Legislature and seized control of the main chamber to prevent lawmakers from voting on it. Intense public debate on the pros and cons of the pact quickly ensued and has been the focus of media attention. As of yesterday, members of the "Sunflower Student Movement" were still occupying the Legislature's Assembly Hall, the chamber in which plenary sessions are held.