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Economic conference attendees call for services pact passage

TAIPEI -- Participants in a district meeting ahead of the planned National Trade and Economic Conference in late July came to several consensuses, including a call for lawmakers to ratify Taiwan's trade-in-services agreement with China as quickly as possible.

The central Taiwan meeting is a preparatory event ahead of the national conference slated for July 26-28.

It closed Sunday, the second day for more than 120 academic, business and civil representatives to come to the city of Taichung to discuss their opinions on two main topics: economic strategy in the face of globalization and Taiwan's regional and cross-strait economic strategies.

Aside from calling for the passage of the cross-strait trade deal, which was signed in June 2012 but has been stalled in the Legislature by opposition lawmakers, the participants urged the government to promote industrial reform and transformation, adjust agricultural policies and help local industries and farmers cope with the impact of globalization.

They also urged administrative departments to finalize negotiations between Taiwan and China on a proposed merchandise trade agreement as soon as possible.

The calls indicate that despite worries about the impact of opening the market to competitive Chinese enterprises, the Taiwanese people — at least in central Taiwan — acknowledge the necessity of closer cross-strait ties in economics and trade.

The central Taiwan meeting was part of four district meetings designed to collect public opinions for the upcoming national conference, a planned platform being organized by the Executive Yuan in an effort to gather public views on the country's future economic development.

Two district meetings have been held in Taipei in northern Taiwan and Kaohsiung in the south, respectively. The last one will take place in Hualien in eastern Taiwan July 12-13.

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