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Ma seeks to debate trade pact with DPP leadership

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that he is prepared to engage in a debate with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leadership anytime over the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

The president made the comments during the Kuomintang's (KMT) weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) gave a report on cross-strait agreement oversight.

The president suggested that the KMT extend an invitation for debate with the DPP once the opposition party elects a new chairperson.

The president explained that a debate between himself and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had been arranged in September last year, but that the opposition later withdrew.

DPP Flip-flop

Former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) once said that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is “sugar-coated poison,” but she later said that if elected to the presidential office, she would fully accept the outcome of that agreement, the president said.

Clearly the DPP knows that ECFA is not “sugar-coated poison” or some sort of monstrosity, the president added.

During a televised debate, the former chairwoman said that if ECFA is signed, 3 to 4 million people would be affected, and that Taiwan's economy would be devastated, the president said.

Due to the economic slump, the growth of Taiwanese exports to mainland China only saw a year-on-year increase of 1.3 percent in 2013, but all items covered by ECFA saw an increase of 10.6 percent in the same period, roughly eight times the amount of the former figure, saving Taiwan approximately NT$40 billion in customs duties, the president said.

For several decades, Taiwan saw a trade deficit, which climbed as high as US$300 million, with mainland China in terms of agricultural products, but last year Taiwan began seeing a trade surplus in the same category with mainland China, Ma said, attributing the change to the fact that Taiwan has begun exporting its fruits and fish to mainland China.

When Tsai served as minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, she proposed not submitting cross-strait agreements to the Legislative Yuan, Ma said, adding that it was a KMT lawmaker who demanded that such agreements be submitted to the Legislature.

In 2003, Article 5 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area was revised, stipulating that if a cross-strait agreement affects existing regulations, it must be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for examination, Ma said.

According to the same regulation, cross-strait agreements that do not necessitate further amendments are submitted to the Legislative Yuan for record, Ma said, adding that this was proposed by the KMT in 2003 not Tsai, who proposed not submitting such agreements to the Legislature altogether.

Constitutionality

The proposed cross-strait agreement supervisory act should be constitutional, pragmatic and feasible, but if the act defines cross-strait relations as “state-to-state,” not only will the act not be able to function, it will also cause cross-strait ties to seriously regress, Ma said.

The president urged the Legislative Yuan to complete its examination of the different versions, so that lawmakers can exercise oversight on agreements signed between Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation and Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits before the agreements are formally submitted to the Legislaure.

1 Comment
April 17, 2014    billparkhurst@
Public referendum on this topic should be mandatory. Far too important to leave to politicians with ties to the mainland.
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