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June 27, 2017

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'Big problem' for Taiwan without trade pact: IMD

TAIPEI -- Despite continued controversy over the service trade agreement with China, Taiwan could face big trouble without it down the road, according to experts from the International Institute for Management and Development (IMD).

The deal "is critical for the long-term competitiveness of Taiwan" and for local development of the services sector, said Dominique Turpin, president of the Switzerland-based institute, Friday during a visit to Taiwan.

If the deal is not passed through the Legislature, "then you have a big problem," he told CNA, adding that Taiwan would also stand to lose its credibility as a reliable player in international negotiations.

He flatly dismissed the feasibility of renegotiating the pact with China, as some protesters have demanded.

"My understanding is that mainland China said: This is it. You take it, or you don't. I don't think (the) mainland is willing to renegotiate," he said.

"So it's very risky for Taiwan not to have this agreement in place," he added.

Political disputes aside, Taiwan needs special relations with China, said Turpin, calling the Chinese economy a "big fish" that is so influential that any country would find it difficult to avoid close ties.

Arturo Bris, a finance professor at IMD, echoed Turpin's view, calling it "striking" to see how much more beneficial the agreement is to Taiwan than to China, without elaborating.

At a forum about world competitiveness held by the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce later Friday, Turpin said the ongoing dispute over the trade pact with China was due to lack of communication.

"The long-term applications are not fully well-understood by the public," he said during a question-and-answer session.

The government needs to do a better job to communicate and explain the positive prospects of the agreement, as the pact is actually "a win-win game," said Turpin.

Taiwan was ranked 11th in the IMD 2013 global competitiveness rankings, down four notches from 2012, due mainly to a weak domestic economy and employment figures.

The 2014 report will not be released until May 20, the institute said.

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