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Nations put trade talks on hold over stalled pact: gov't

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With the implementation delay of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, many countries have placed a hold on their current trade negotiations with Taiwan, said Economic Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) yesterday.

Chang was invited by the Legislature's Finance and Economics Committees to report on the latest development of the service pact.

In the wake of domestic turmoil caused by the service pact controversy, many of Taiwan's trade partners now hesitate to sign trade agreements with Taiwan, and some have “paused” bilateral negotiations with Taiwan this year, Chang said.

The “anti-service pact” movement has exerted great impact on Taiwan, Chang said, adding that it affects Taiwan's trade relations with mainland China, and delayed the signing of the next-in-line goods trade agreement with China. In addition, it affects Taiwan's chance to be more “internationalized,” as the global community is now watching closely how Taiwan deals with its trade issues with China, Chang said.

When speaking with the press yesterday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he believes the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement is a “good trade” and it would be a pity for Taiwan not to sign it. In Chang's opinion, Lee made the remark based on Singapore's experience. Like Taiwan, Singapore is a local small economy, which can only survive by opening up, Chang said, adding that Singapore has been actively inking free trade agreements (FTA) with other countries, for it understands the important roles they play in a nation's development.

Taiwan May Lag Behind

South Korea and Australia recently inked an FTA, and with that, South Korea has signed FTAs with a total of 49 nations, Chang said. It is a very disturbing development, for many of South Korea's exported products and services overlap with Taiwan's. Taiwan's exported products will now be put in a disadvantaged position in countries that have signed FTAs with South Korea, which obtains tariff favors.

The Vice Economic Vice Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) concurred with Chang's remark, saying that many countries have indicated they would not conduct trade negotiations with Taiwan until it has established trade agreements with mainland China.

According to Duh, the service trade pact debacle has scared away at least one country that was in talks with Taiwan to ink a trade agreement this year. Duh would not name the country, but said it would like to see Taiwan sign the service trade pact with China.

Opening up Telecommunications Sector Not a Danger

Chang also tried to allay legislators' concerns over the opening of Taiwan's telecommunications services to China, promising that removing barriers on their entry to the sector will not pose a security threat.

At a separate meeting of the Legislature's Education and Culture Committee, Science Minister Chang San-cheng (張善政) defended the decision to open parts of Taiwan's type-II telecommunications business by arguing it posed relatively little risk compared to the security threats most people deal with daily.

April 10, 2014    eddy@
The government needs to back up their claims with hard numbers... actual NT$ lost in foreign trade for specified sectors of the economy that has been a result of the protest movement.
April 10, 2014    leejh27@
Numbers would help, but it would likely not change anyone's mind, because the plusses and minuses of the service and trade pact are not the root reasons for the protests. They are political in nature because of the sensitivity of mainland China's intentions. The protestors would rather sink the island economically trade wise rather than give mainland China any chance at subjugating the island economically. Taiwan will be dealing with the mainland from a weakened position in years to come...
April 10, 2014    ohmyma@
The US representative office in Taiwan, AIT, said today (10/4) that the TPP and the services pact are NOT related and failure to sign the latter won't affect the former. And all along Ma's been saying that Taiwan will be locked out of other agreements if it doesn't get this one...
April 10, 2014    77piggies@
The question is how much of our hard-won autonomy would we Taiwan people be willing to give up for 0.4% points of promised growth?
April 11, 2014    wikct2@
Politicians always play dirty political games at the expenses of people. This is not about trade but about anti-China moment for someone who cares less about promotion of peace, stability and prosperity of Taiwan. Who says to trade with China, we will lose what Taiwan has achieved? China wants to move forward and not backward. Rising China and China's catching up should be a good thing for all Chinese to enjoy. Why do some stupid idiots play dirty political games at the expenses of Taiwanese people? Maybe because Taiwan cannot compete with China. Well, not only not able to compete with China but with other countries too.
April 11, 2014    Alexchag@
I don't buy this argument from this minister. This is a very cheap argument as the sunflower movement is not against any FTA but China CCP economical sovereign surrender.
For instance nobody in Taiwan is against a FTA with US which is still has the biggest GDP in the world as it does not pose any treat to Taiwan sovereign.
I'd say it's not even an anti-Chinese movement. This current CCP government is not trustful and it even lacks legitimacy even in mainland.
I'm Brazilian and I can tell you the worst mistake our government has ever made: they recognized China as a "normal" economy. With that now our domestic industry was almost scrapped due to dumps. The Chinese starts with artificial lower prices just to break the competitors.
Of course our government and our biggest exporters like Vale (iron) and some soy and meat exporters are very happy with that. But it was at expense of a lot of small and medium Brazilian firms.
Yet Brazil has a very big and strong economy. Luckily China is too far from here and it does not pose any treat to our sovereignty.

My humble advice for the Taiwanese: do not trust in your foe. Do not forget they still have more than 1,500 missiles pointed to your beloved country.
And if you still have any doubt ask Hong Kongers what CCP is doing there. It's even worse than old colonial times.

In short: this FTA with CCP is a very good one for short sighted in Taiwan and of course for big companies.
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Economic Affairs Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) speaks at the Legislature, yesterday. According to Chang, some nations have “paused” trade negotiations with Taiwan in the wake of the recent Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement debacle. (CNA)

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